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Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk 




Catherine Wilkughby, Duchess of Suffolk 

B Y 


Alfred A . Knopf New York 

.L. C. catalog card number: 63-11109 


Copyright 1962 by Evelyn Read. 
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be 
reproduced in any form -without permission in -writing 
from the publisher, except by a reviewer, -who may 
quote brief passages and reproduce not more than 
three illustrations in a review to be printed in a 
magazine or newspaper. Manufactured in the United 
States of America, and distributed by Random 
House, Inc. 


Originally published in England by Jonathan Cape Limited as 


CATHERINE WILLOUGHBY, Duchess of Suffolk, was born a 
Catholic and became a convinced and zealous Puritan; she 
was born to a sheltered and secure life and, by her own 
honesty and outspokenness, she courted persecution and 
lived in danger. She was a woman of wit and beauty and 
charm, and of great integrity. Her life would not be regarded 
as important in the development of the politics and affairs of 
England, but at least one great statesman cherished her 
friendship, and many whose thinking and writing and 
preaching were basic to the Protestant Reformation owed 
much to her generosity and religious zeal and to the stimulus 
of her eager mind. 

This book is not a formal biography. Rather it is an attempt 
to make a very vital sixteenth-century woman come to life 
in the twentieth century; and if, now and again, I seem to 
have attributed to Catherine of Suffolk thoughts or feelings 
which cannot be documented, it is because my study of all 
the material bearing on her life leads me to the belief that 
they are valid. I have made, I think, no statement of fact that 
I cannot support. Today, when differing forms of worship 
are not only tolerated but taken for granted, it is not entirely 
easy for us to credit the attitudes regarding religion which 
prevailed among civilized peoples four hundred years ago, or 
to believe that a woman like Catherine Willoughby could 
feel as strongly as she did and could be persecuted simply 
because she insisted upon worshipping her God according to 
the dictates of her own conscience. But if we substitute 


political or economic beliefs for religious beliefs, we can 
perhaps more nearly understand the thinking and the actions 
of those who fervently believed that change was not only 
inevitable but desirable. 

Catherine Willoughby was married twice, to two men 
who were quite different from one another: the first a peer 
of the realm, a soldier and courtier and the favourite of his 
king; the second a quiet, scholarly man, of more humble 
birth though still a gentleman and, like herself, a zealous 
Puritan. She seems to have been happy in both of her mar- 
riages, and she felt so strongly about the estate of matrimony 
that she declined to participate, for her children, in the 
sixteenth-century custom of arranging marriages with no 
reference to love between the young people. In an age when 
women were expected to be seen and not heard, Catherine 
was seen for her beauty and heard for her intelligence and 
wit, her spiritual integrity and zeal. What she believed in she 
stood up for and worked for, but she would accept nothing 
simply because it was the custom. She was born twenty years 
after the beginning of the sixteenth century and died twenty 
years before its end, but she might have lived successfully and 
effectively in the twentieth century. She was a modern woman. 

This story of Catherine has been written for my husband, 
Conyers Read, who opened for me the door to the enchant- 
ment of the sixteenth century and the fascination of research. 
Working with him through the years was not only a com- 
plete joy, it was also an illuminating and stimulating experi- 
ence. At various times he urged me to write this book. For 
his sake I wish it were better than it is. Whatever is good in it 
belongs to him; its weaknesses are my own. 

The list of those to whom I am indebted for help and 


encouragement is long. I am extremely grateful to Sir John 
Neale, for his encouragement, for his replies to my many 
letters no question that I asked him was too slight for him 
to answer in detail and for the helpful talks we had in his 
home after he had read the typescript. I hold him in no way 
responsible for faults, but I acknowledge his generous help 
with deep gratitude. I thank Mr Noel Blakiston of the 
Public Record Office and Mr John McKenzie of the British 
Museum, who sent me microfilms of documents with great 
promptness whenever I asked for them, so that I was able to 
work from source material even before I could get to 
England; when I did get to London, the staffs of both the 
Museum and the Record Office gave me the same courteous 
and helpful treatment to which I had become accustomed in 
the years when I worked there with my husband. Mr Piper 
and Mr Kerslake, of the National Portrait Gallery, were very 
helpful in finding the portraits of the Duke of Suffolk and of 
Richard Bertie; I acknowledge their help with thanks. I am 
grateful to the Rev. Canon James L. Cartwright, archivist of 
Peterborough Cathedral, who looked up for me, at a very 
busy time in his own life, the facts about the burial of 
Catherine of Suffolk's mother; and to Dr Louis B. Wright 
and the members of his staff at the Folger Shakespeare 
Library, who gave me co-operation and helpful suggestions. 
I have borrowed great numbers of books from the libraries 
of Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, and I am grateful 
not only for the books but also for the librarians' patience 
when I kept them far over my allotted time. 

Miss Doris Coates, of the National Archives Register, and 
Mrs Joan Varley, Mr Michael Lloyd and Mrs Owen of the 
Lincolnshire Archives were all most helpful. I am very 
grateful to Pastor Boeddinghaus of St WiUebrod's Church 


in Wesel, for showing me through his church, which was 
closed for repairs, for driving me to Santon and for informa- 
tion about the Walloons; Professor Freysin of Weinheim 
was also helpful. Professor Allan G. Chester of the University 
of Pennsylvania was always ready to talk with me about 
Hugh Latimer and the New Religion; I learned much from 
him and am grateful for his help. 

My good friend, Lady Le Maitre, who lives in Suffolk, 
sent me information about the county and spent a week-end 
driving me all about it, to Parham and Westhorpe and 
Ufford Church; her help was invaluable. And I am very 
grateful to the Earl of Ancaster, Catherine of Suffolk's 
descendant, and to Lady Ancaster; they invited me, a total 
stranger, to stay with them at Grimsthorpe and gave me the 
room which, as far as they could be certain, was the room 
the duchess had occupied. They showed me everything I 
asked to see and more, and Lord Ancaster got out of safe 
deposit for me to see and gave me permission to reproduce, 
the miniature of Catherine which is the frontispiece of this 

Finally, I am deeply grateful to my children, Polly, Liza, 
Ned and Bunk, who have encouraged me at every turn, and 
to my mother who has borne cheerfully with my moods of 
alternate elation and gloom as I have worked on this book. 

E. R. 

Villa Nova, Pennsylvania 









vn EXILE no 




NOTES 197 
INDEX 201 



From a miniature, after Holbein, at Grimsthorpe 
(Reproduced by permission of the Earl of Ancaster) 


From the original by an unknown artist in the National 
Portrait Gallery 


First page of a letter, dated June 1552, in Catherine's hand, from 
the original at the Public Record Office 


Artist unknown 

(Art Trade, 1935; present location unknown) 


(Grace Collection, British Museum) 



THE sun over the county of Suffolk rises out of the 
North Sea, covering the rolling fields with a rosy 
mantle. On an early autumn morning the ripe fruits, 
blackberries nestling luscious and purple among their green 
leaves, cheerful red apples and plums hanging like round, 
perfect garnets from branches bending low with their 
succulent weight, all begin to glow, like coals in the heart of 
a fire. The woodlands tall oak and graceful elm 
gradually turn green, a shimmering deep emerald reflecting 
the dancing light from the newly awakened sea, miles off 
to the east, and here and there the silver shaft of a birch 
emphasizes the blackness of the other trunks. A horse stamps 
and whinnies, and another, a mile or so away, answers ; and 
an early-rising peasant in brown jerkin and leather hose 
comes out of a thatched cottage whose smoke rises like a 
grey plume against the morning sky. He trudges along the 
narrow lane between the hedgerows, a road which was black 
and deserted an hour before. The little fish in the small rivers 
which criss-cross the county come up to the surface, looking 
for a chance insect to devour; their noses break the quiet 
water, causing ripples to spread in jewelled circles, returning 
the amethyst rays of the early morning sun with flashes of 
topaz and diamond; while the willows on either bank droop 
their delicate branches to caress the water with soft green 
finger-tips. The world is mysterious, tentative, magic. And 
suddenly it is day, the mystery is over and revealing light has 



come. The silence is broken by the steady humming under- 
tone of man and beast setting forth about their daily tasks, 
the creak of carts, the muted jangle of metal against leather 
as horses are harnessed and men go to their work in the 
fields. The sky that was rosy with the dawn is a clear blue, 
with fluffy white clouds racing across it from the haze of the 
eastern horizon. 

On such a morning in September of 1533, a girl of about 
fifteen pushed open the leaded casement of her bedroom and 
stood watching the Suffolk world come to life. The fields 
that had been softly rippling a month before were a brown- 
gold stubble left behind by the harvesters who had cut the 
ripe grain. In the gardens below the open window, herbs 
thyme, lavender and rosemary made a fragrant grey-green 
sea on either side of paths bordered by low box, with here 
and there the mustard yellow of yarrow, the dusty purple of 
Michaelmas daisies. The odours from all of these, the spicy 
tang of the herbs, the heavy bitter-sweetness of the yarrow 
and the elusive fragrance of the asters, blended together in a 
bouquet that rose gently on the morning air to caress the face 
at the open casement. 

The girl who gazed out into the morning, breathing deeply 
of the sweet-scented air, was beautiful, slight and erect. Her 
thoughtful eyes were set wide apart below a smooth brow in 
a heart-shaped face. The nose was finely chiselled and 
straight, and the sensitive mouth above an almost stubborn 
little chin was barely parted as she stood there looking and 
thinking. Her brown hair fell over slender shoulders as she 
drew her furred robe more closely about her. The dawn was 
chill, but by noon it would be warm on this sunny, late- 
summer day. 

She knew and loved every detail of the scene below her 



window, knew it by heart from five happy years spent in this 
great house where she had come as a child to live as the ward 
of the duke, master of the house and of the gardens and fields 
and woods as far away as she could see. Every bit of it was 
dear to her, the spacious fields and the intimate gardens, the 
winding streams with the little fish darting about in the clear 
water, the brown roads and the prickly hedges. She loved the 
heady fragrance of bean blossoms in the early summer, and 
the bright flash of scarlet poppies nodding their heads in the 
fields ; the gold of the wheat at harvest time, and the dark, 
silent, sleeping countryside in the winter, now and then 
covered by a thin blanket of snow, when all the fields would 
be clean and white and the roads black and deep in mud. All 
this she loved; and she loved most dearly the people who 
lived in the house, who had made her, Catherine Willoughby, 
very young and newly bereft of her father when she came 
there, so very welcome. 

The house was the manor house of Westhorpe, the country- 
home of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, hearty, bluff and 
very much alive ; gay and charming as he moved about his 
house and lands, irresistible in steel armour as he rode his 
horse in tournaments, balancing his spear lightly in his right 
hand while his left held so gently the rein that controlled his 
magnificent stallion. Charles Brandon was the favourite of 
his king, the handsome and popular Henry VIII; he was the 
beloved husband of Mary Tudor, King Henry's beautiful 
younger sister who had married him, her girlhood love, soon 
after the not unwelcome death of her first husband, King 
Louis XII of France; and he was a devoted father to their 
children, their daughters Frances and Eleanor, their son, Lord 
Charles, and to little Catherine Willoughby, his ward since 
1528, two years after the death of her own father. 



On this September morning as she watched the sunrise, 
Catherine Willoughby had a strange feeling, almost of 
breathlessness, as she leaned her head against the side of the 
window. So much had changed so quickly; and today there 
would be, for her, the greatest change of all. Barely three 
short months ago her elder foster-sister, Frances Brandon, 
had gone to London to be married to the young Earl of 
Dorset. The weeks before the wedding had been full of 
excitement in the usually placid household, excitement and 
preparation. And then her beloved foster-mother, the 
beautiful, gentle Mary Tudor, had come back home from 
the wedding, pale and so weak that she was scarcely able to 
get to her room. The French Queen, as she was always 
called, was very ill ; and Catherine and little Eleanor Brandon 
tiptoed about the halls that had once echoed to their skipping 
footsteps, like small, frightened ghosts, not knowing what 
was happening behind the oak door, the door that had 
always been open to them but was now tightly closed. In 
June, when the scent of blossoms was sweet in the air, the 
lovely lady who had brought such happiness into little 
Catherine Willoughby's life, died. She lay on a bier in the 
chapel of the manor house, where Catherine, as well as her 
own two daughters, crept in to kneel and pray each morning 
and each evening. And then there had been the long proces- 
sion through the rough, winding roads to Bury St Edmunds, 
fifteen slow miles away. Catherine and her own mother, 
among the chief mourners, had ridden in the sad procession 
immediately behind the French Queen's own two daughters, 
who had followed their mother's body on horses covered 
with black saddle-cloths which fell to the ground in dark 
folds. As the solemn cortege passed through each village 
along the way, groups of villagers met it, carrying torches. 



Finally the Abbey church was reached: the same Norman 
church with its sturdy columns and rounded arches where, 
four hundred years before, the barons under Archbishop 
Langton had drawn up the petition which was the basis for 
Magna Carta. There requiem mass was said, the offerings of 
palls of cloth of gold were made by the lady mourners, and 
the long funeral sermon was preached by the Abbot of St 
Benet. And the body of the French Queen, wife of Catherine's 
guardian, the loving lady who had brought love and security 
to the little ward, had been buried in the church near the 
High Altar. 

The members of the funeral procession returned home to 
Westhorpe, to a house that seemed strangely empty and 
bereft without its beloved mistress. 

The French Queen's funeral had taken place on July 2ist. 
And now it was early September, six weeks later, as Catherine 
Willoughby watched the sunrise and thought her thoughts. 
Later that day, she would stand beside the duke, the forty- 
eight-year-old man, handsome and vigorous in his middle 
age, whose ward she had been, and she would say the words 
that would make her his wife. Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk 
(she breathed the words to herself as she stood at the window), 
at such a young age she would be the second peeress in the 
kingdom after the ladies of the royal blood, mistress of this 
house and of all she could see from her open casement. 

Small wonder if the prospect was almost frightening to 
the young girl. In a few short hours she would leave 
childhood and become a woman; only a little time now, and 
the man who had been as a father to her would be her hus- 
band; still to be obeyed, to be sure, still her lord and master, 
but yet quite different. Unlike the lot of many young girls 
of her age in this sixteenth century, however, the man she 



would stand beside would be no stranger but one she knew 
and trusted and loved, one who had cared for her, in whose 
house she had grown up happy and confident. He was a little 
formidable, this handsome, gay and dashing duke, but kind 
too, and gentle. And so she was not really afraid. But now it 
would be she, Catherine, who would be at his side when he 
went up to the Court in Westminster, at the king's command. 
How to carry herself, deportment in all situations, was one 
of the lessons the French Queen had taught her. Would she 
remember all she had learned? Would she measure up when 
she appeared before all the Court as the Duchess of Suffolk, 
the wife chosen by the king's brother-in-law his favourite 
her talented, brave and spirited husband ? 

Catherine Willoughby's little chin set itself more firmly. 
Her dark eyes, thoughtful still, had a determined gleam in 
their depths, as she turned from the window to the waiting 
maids who had come to dress her for her wedding. 



CATHERINE WiLLOUGHBY was born in March of 1519 
or 1520. Parham Old Hall, the house in which she was 
born, was in eastern Suffolk, near the little town of 
Framlingham where the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk stood 
the magnificent Norman fortress-castle with its broad 
moat and high stone towers, its windows, long and narrow, 
for bowmen. Parham Old Hall was a moated house, too, and 
its moat washed the base of rosy brick walls, catching the 
glancing rays of the Suffolk sun and tossing them back to 
make patterns of shimmering light and shadow on leaded 
windows and high chimneys. 

Parham Old Hall had belonged to the Willoughby family 
since the days of Edward II, and William Lord Willoughby 
brought his Spanish bride, Maria de Salinas, home there in 
1516 after their marriage in Greenwich. Lord Willoughby, 
soldier and courtier, had fought for Henry VIII in his early 
campaigns in France. His bride was the favourite lady-in- 
waiting to Henry's wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, and 
her devotion to her royal mistress was the dominating force 
in her life until the day, more than twenty years later, when 
the unhappy queen, outcast and divorced, died in her arms. 
At the time of Lord Willoughby 's marriage to the queen's 
lady-in-waiting, Henry looked with favour on matches 
between his own subjects and those of his wife's native 
Spain. This was markedly so in the case of the Willoughbys, 



the stalwart soldier, as English as the English oaks, and his 
little dark-eyed Spanish bride. The king gave handsome 
proof of his pleasure in this particular wedding by a large 
grant of lands in Lincolnshire, including the reversion of the 
manor of Grimsthorpe, occupied by the Dowager Countess 
of Oxford, to come upon her death to Lord Willoughby and 
his wife Maria. Henry also paid the new Lady Willoughby 
the signal compliment of naming one of his new ships after 
her, the Mary Willoughby. The atmosphere was altogether 
felicitous for Lord Willoughby and his young wife; wealth, 
position, their sovereign's favour all were theirs as they 
started their married life. And all were theirs that March day 
when their baby girl was born, and was christened by the 
name of Catherine, the queen's name. The little Norman 
church in Ufford, close by Parham, was largely built by 
Catherine Willoughby's ancestors, and she is said to have 
been baptized there at the beautiful fifteenth-century font, 
carved with roses and with the shields of Willoughby and of 
Ufford. The magnificent tabernacle cover of the font rises 
eighteen feet in intricately carved, receding tiers of canopied 
niches, exquisitely painted and gilded, to where, at the top, 
stands a gilded pelican, medieval symbol for Christ. 

The England into which Catherine Willoughby was born 
was Catholic England, loyal to the Pope and to the bluff, 
hearty king, Henry VIII, and his wife, the Spanish princess of 
Aragon. Little Catherine Willoughby, baptized in the 
Catholic faith, was confirmed in the same faith, as were all 
English children in those days. Stephen Gardiner, afterwards 
Bishop of Winchester, was Catherine's godfather; thirty 
years later, in the reign of Henry's daughter Mary, when 
Gardiner was at the height of his power as the queen's Lord 
Chancellor, he spoke of the time when he was Catherine's 



'gossip' and she was 'as earnest as any' in the Roman faith. 
That later day was quite a different time in England, and 
Gardiner was then trying to trap Catherine and imprison her 
for heresy. But in 1520, England gave little outward sign of 
the storm that was in the offing, a storm whose winds would 
sweep over her, tearing her from the Roman Church and 
setting in motion forces, religious and secular, undreamt of 
by most Englishmen in the year of Catherine Willoughby's 

In 1520 the king and queen had one daughter, Mary, four 
" years older than Catherine Willoughby, and they were still 
hoping for a son to inherit the crown of England. Relations 
with Spain and with the Pope were warm and harmonious 
at that time. Henry's Lord Chancellor, Thomas, Cardinal 
Wolsey, resplendent in his crimson robes, secure in his 
position of influence, was, next to the king himself, all- 
powerful. If there were mutterings of discontent among the 
nobles or the bourgeoisie because of Wolsey's overbearing 
manner, his arrogance and his power, they were as yet only 
mutterings. Wolsey was a cardinal of the Roman Church; 
certainly there was little if any doubt voiced by most English- 
men that the only true Church was the Church of Rome, the 
only true faith the Roman faith. It was not until much later, 
after Henry had broken from Rome and established his own 
Church, free from allegiance to pope or cardinal, that 
Englishmen openly questioned the rightness of the Roman 
position or the position of a cardinal of the Church of Rome. 
It was still later that some free spirits found even Henry's 
English Church too formal, too papistical in its liturgy and 
vestments, its veneration of saints and belief in purgatory, and 
turned to the simpler forms of worship, influenced by 
Continental thinkers and preachers, thus starting what would 



become the Puritan movement in England. Catherine 
Willoughby was one of these free spirits. But in her child- 
hood she was a Roman Catholic. 

Most of Catherine's early childhood was spent at Parham 
Old Hall. She was a solitary little girl, trotting through the 
halls, looking up at the knights in armour, the animals 
hounds and horses woven into the tapestries that hung on 
the walls of the great gallery, or playing in the gardens 
under the tall trees, watching the shadows on the water of 
the moat. Her parents were away much of the time : her 
father campaigning for his king or serving him at Court, 
her mother waiting upon Queen Catherine. Her mother, in 
fact, was one of the select group for whom a room was 
provided at Court, for her to stay at the palace near the 
queen. And so little Catherine knew hardly anything of 
family life, of the uninterrupted devotion of a loving mother, 
the day-to-day association with a gay, handsome father. She 
was alone, except for loyal servants. She saw the seasons 
change, smelled the fragrance of the blossom as blackberry 
and hawthorn came into white flower in the late spring, felt 
the warm sun of Suffolk in July and August, the chill air and 
the tangy breezes blowing from the sea, only twenty miles 
away, in the winter. 

Catherine's father died on October ipth, 1526, and the 
little girl became the Baroness Willoughby, heiress to her 
father's fortune 1 and to such lands as did not, by entailment, 
have to pass to male heirs. In this case the male heir was her 
father's brother, Sir Christopher Willoughby, who tried to 
make trouble over Catherine's inheritance, accusing her 
mother of such misdemeanours as keeping the news of his 
brother's illness and death from him, destroying evidence 
and even taking from the house articles of value which by 



right belonged to him. Finally the differences were straight- 
ened out, and though there was never any affection between 
Lord Willoughby's widow and daughter and his brother, 
neither was there active enmity. 

Upon her father's death, Catherine Willoughby became a 
ward of the Crown. In the sixteenth century, among the 
nobility and wealthier gentry, when a father died, his child, 
if a minor, became a royal ward. The Crown had jurisdiction 
over this child and his (or her) moneys and estates, from 
which the Crown, of course, derived revenues. In most cases 
the wardship was sold by the Crown, acting through the 
Court of Wards ; in the case of a ward such as Catherine 
Willoughby, who was heir to a large fortune, the wardship 
was sold to someone of wealth and position, who paid 
handsomely for it, for the opportunity to make considerable 
money from the administration of the ward's affairs. In 
March of 1529, the wardship of Catherine Willoughby was 
bought by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, for 
.2,666 13$. 4d., a very substantial sum of money. 2 

Charles Brandon was said to be the only man Henry VTII 
ever really loved. His father was William Brandon, standard- 
bearer for Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth Field, where 
Richard III himself killed him. Charles was therefore born 
no later than 1485 the year of Bosworth. From the very- 
start of Henry VIII's reign, he was a great favourite with the 
king. He was not unlike Henry physically, tall, sturdy, 
valiant. He loved outdoor sports, particularly jousting, at 
which he excelled, a sport in which Henry, too, was profi- 
cient. In the first year of Henry's reign, Charles Brandon was 
a squire of the royal body, and from then on he proceeded 
from one position to another, higher one, in the king's 
service. In 1514, five years after Henry's accession, he was 



created Duke of Suffolk, which raised him in rank to a 
position second only to that of the Duke of Norfolk, the 
first peer of the realm. 

At the time of Suffolk's purchase of the wardship of little 
Catherine Willoughby, he was married to Henry's younger 
sister, Mary Tudor. She was his third wife. Suffolk's life, 
before he married Mary, had been colourful, to put it 
mildly. He had been betrothed and unbetrothed, married 
and unmarried. But none of his adventures had cost him the 
affection or confidence of his sovereign. Probably his 
marriage to Mary came closer to doing that than anything 
he ever did. Mary had married, in 1514, King Louis XII of 
France. It was, of course, a marriage made for political 
reasons. Mary was eighteen, charming and beautiful, and, 
most important, the sister of the King of England; Louis was 
a tired, worn-out fifty-two, neither handsome nor alluring. 
But he was the King of France. In persuading his sister to 
agree to the match, Henry had promised her that if the 
French king should die, she should have her own choice in a 
second marriage. And so she married Louis and was crowned 
Queen of France; and she was known as the French 
Queen until the day of her death. Henry's emissary to her 
coronation was the Duke of Suffolk, who witnessed 
the ceremonies and covered himself, and England, with 
glory in the jousts and pageantry held in honour of the 
event. The marriage was of short duration Louis died the 
following January ist. And Suffolk, only just returned to 
England from Mary's coronation, was sent back to France 
as Henry's ambassador to Francis I, the new king. 

Francis had lost no time in pressing his attentions upon the 
widowed queen, who did her best to repel his overtures. 
Finally she confessed to him her love for the Duke of 



Suffolk. But she was fearful that her brother, thinking only 
of the political usefulness of her marriage, would forget his 
promise to allow her to choose her own husband. Further- 
more, she was well aware that most of Henry's council, 
already jealous of Suffolk's hold on the king's affection, would 
do all in their power to prevent his marriage to her, the king's 
sister. So she persuaded Suffolk to marry her before Henry 
could once more select a bridegroom for her, and they were 
wed secretly, in Paris, early in 1515. 

Henry was outraged at their presumption, and many of 
the council, particularly those of the old nobility, would have 
had Suffolk's head. As Mary knew, they regarded him as an 
upstart, and their jealousy of his position made them seize 
upon any pretext to discredit him in the king's eyes. But they 
did not succeed. In the end, Henry relented, satisfied by the 
gift of Mary's plate and jewels and a bond of .24,000 to 
repay, in yearly instalments, the expenses he had incurred in 
connection with her marriage to Louis. Actually, in his 
secret heart Henry probably sympathized with his sister and 
Suffolk, and found it hard to condemn her marriage to this 
man whom he loved. Impulsive himself, he must have under- 
stood their impulsiveness. And so they came back to England 
in April, and on May I3th they were married, in a second 
ceremony, in the presence of the king at Greenwich. 

They went to live in the country quietly at first, until the 
displeasure of the nobles had somewhat blown over; but 
gradually they took more and more part in Court life, as 
King Henry wished them to do. In 1520, they accompanied 
Henry and his queen across the Channel to the Field of the 
Cloth of Gold, where the fine quarters allotted to them were 
immediately next to those of Henry and Catherine of 
Aragon. But for the most part, whatever official duties 



Suffolk had to perform for his sovereign, the French Queen 
preferred to live quietly at home. She was a very lovely 
young woman with a stately grace, an ornament to any 
Court ceremonial. But she was also rather a frail woman, and 
found the peaceful life in her home at Westhorpe far 
pleasanter than the hectic existence that was Court life. She 
loved her gardens, and spent long and happy hours planning 
them and supervising the work of her gardeners. And she 
took great care of the running of her large establishment. 
Mary was a kind and gentle person, the sort of woman who 
would have taken a personal interest in the welfare of the 
members of her household, who would have commanded 
the very real devotion of everyone who knew her, from her 
own husband and children down to the least scullery maid. 
And as often as he could be away from the king's service, 
Suffolk was at home with her. It was a warm, happy life, the 
life of two people who were in love and whose greatest 
happiness came from each other and from their children and 
their home. 

This was the home and the atmosphere into which little 
Catherine Willoughby moved in 1528. The countryside was 
not strange to her. Westhorpe was only about twenty-five 
miles to the north-west of Parham, farther from the sea, so 
that the breezes blowing across the fields and through the 
woods were drier and without the salt smell of those that 
blew over Parham. But from the rich earth the tall oaks 
reached up into the sky almost farther than a little girl could 
see as she stood on the ground, her head tipped back, looking 
upward. Gorse had grown around Parham, in cheerful 
stretches of bright yellow. About Westhorpe the acres of 
golden grain, wheat and oats and barley, waved in the wind, 
green in the early summer, turning to gold as the year grew 



older. They stretched as far as the eye could see, broken by 
blackberries and hawthorns, the clumps of woodland and the 
willows by the streams. 

There were two other little girls at Westhorpe, Frances and 
Eleanor Brandon, the two daughters of the duke and the 
French Queen. Frances was three years older than Catherine, 
Eleanor about her age. Together they played under the trees 
or walked in the fragrant herb garden. They learned to 
distinguish between the different herbs, and the uses, medi- 
cinal or culinary, of each one; they watched the French 
Queen supervising her household servants and her gardeners, 
and saw how a great lady treated those who were serving her, 
and how a household should be run. This was part of the 
education of a young girl. Giovanni Bruto, one of the 
sixteenth-century writers on the subject of educating young 
women, said that a girl 

shall learn not only all manner of fine needlework ... 
but whatsoever belongeth to the distaff, spindle and 
weaving, which must not be thought unfit for the 
honour and estate wherein she was bom . . and which is 
more, to the end that becoming a mistress she shall 
look into the duties and offices of domestical servants, 
and see how they sweep and make clean the chambers, 
hall and other places, make ready dinner, dressing up the 
cellar and buttery, and that she be not proud that she 
should disdain to be present ... at all household works. 

Such training, under the kindly and gentle hand of the 
French Queen, stood Catherine Willoughby in good stead 
all through her life, when she had to manage her own large 
household and did so with ease and grace. 

The little girls had their lessons at Westhorpe, too. It-is not 



clear how much formal education Catherine Willoughby 
ever had. She was not a learned woman, never a 'blue-stock- 
ing' in the way in which the brilliant Cooke sisters were. 
She was intelligent, however, and eager. Reading and writing 
she learned, of course, and she may have had some little 
Latin and Greek. Undoubtedly she learned some music, 
probably how to play on a musical instrument. Music 
played no real part in Catherine's later life, but practically all 
the daughters of the gentry learned how to play, and 
Catherine was probably no exception. Deportment was an 
important part of her education, a lesson which she learned 
not only from precept but also from being constantly 
influenced by the actions and ways of the charming and 
cultivated mistress of the house in which she lived. Good 
manners, too, were stressed as an important part of the 
education of a girl-child in the sixteenth century, and 
Catherine learned that lesson well. How much she had 
learned from her own mother is not certain, or whether she 
had had tutors at Parham before she came to Westhorpe. 
Maria de Salinas had not been a bad mother, but her first 
preoccupation had always been her duty to the royal mistress 
who was the primary object of her devotion. And so she was 
away from Parham and from her little daughter rather more 
than she was at home. It was quite different at Westhorpe, 
where the children, Frances and Eleanor and little Catherine, 
never took second place to any outsider, even a queen, and 
where their entire education was directed by the mistress of 
the house. 

By the end of the 15208, the king had sent Queen Catherine 
from the Court, and his infatuation with Anne Boleyn was 
an open secret. It was an infatuation which neither the French 
Queen nor her husband the duke shared or even approved. 



They had affection and respect for Queen Catherine; they 
had neither for Mistress Boleyn, and while they dared not 
openly oppose the king, they stayed away as much as they 
could from a Court which had become quite uncongenial to 
them both. Suffolk was obliged to be in more or less frequent 
attendance upon the king, but between her health, which was 
never very robust, and her responsibilities at home, the 
French Queen had ample excuse for staying away from 
Court, and she made the most of it. 

And then, in the spring of 1533, Frances Brandon was 
married to Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset. It was an 
important wedding; the eldest daughter of the king's sister 
and the second peer of the realm, was a bride in whose veins 
flowed royal blood, while Dorset himself held a position of 
importance at Court. Frances Brandon's wedding took place 
in London, a London that was preparing, without enthusiasm, 
for the coronation of Anne Boleyn which, now that Henry's 
divorce from Catherine of Aragon was zfait accompli, would 
take place with great pomp at Westminster Hall, soon after 
Frances Brandon's marriage. 

As soon as her daughter's wedding was over, the French 
Queen returned to Westhorpe. In the best of health, she 
would have found it difficult to witness the coronation of a 
woman whom she held in the low esteem in which she held 
Anne. But she was not in good health; the wedding festivities 
had been an exhausting ordeal for her and she left London for 
her home in Suffolk with a sigh of relief. Her husband was 
obliged to remain at Court; as Earl Marshal and High 
Steward for the day, he had to take a prominent part in the 
coronation ceremonies. So, too, did Dorset, her new son-in- 
law, who carried the sceptre in the procession. 

The wedding festivities had been, in fact, more than the 



French Queen's frail body could stand. She got back to 
Westhorpe, but soon after her arrival there she was very ill. 
The news of her illness reached her husband in Westminster, 
and he and Dorset left the Court with all possible haste, and 
rode eastward as fast as their horses could gallop. They were 
not in time. Before they reached Westhorpe the French 
Queen was dead. She died on June 24th, 1533. 

Her body lay in state in the private chapel for three weeks, 
and then came the solemn procession along the Suffolk roads, 
fifteen miles, to the Abbey church of StEdmundsbury, where 
she was buried. She still lies there, in what is now Bury St 
Edmunds; the Abbey church was destroyed later, but her 
body was reinterred in St Mary's church in the Abbey 

Barely three months later, in September, the Duke of 
Suffolk married his ward, Catherine, Baroness Willoughby. 
In one brief summer Catherine's status had changed from 
childhood to womanhood, from the light-hearted ward of 
the handsome duke to his wife, mistress of his house and 
servants, the second peeress of the realm. 



BY sixteenth-century standards, neither the speed with 
which the widower Duke of Suffolk remarried nor the 
difference in age between him and his bride was 
unusual enough to cause surprise. Widows or widowers 
often remarried in what would be called today indecent 
haste; probably the most familiar case is that of Catherine 
Parr, who married the Lord Admiral only five weeks after 
the death of her husband, Henry VIII. As for the difference 
in their ages Catherine Willoughby was in her early teens, 
while the duke was at least forty-seven such an age-spread 
between a bridegroom and his bride was not unique. The 
marriage, however, did cause some comment in Court circles. 
Chapuys, the ambassador of the Emperor Charles V of Spain, 
reported to his master on September 3rd: 

On Sunday next the Duke of Suffolk will be married to 
the daughter of a Spanish lady named Lady Willoughby. 
She was promised to his son, but he is only ten years 
old; and although it is not worth writing to your 
Majesty, the novelty of the case made me mention it. 

The ambassador did not say what it was that he considered 
novel, and no one else seemed to think the matter strange 
enough for comment. Chapuys was probably wrong in one 
respect: according to the Dictionary of National Biography, the 
son of the duke and the French Queen was born in 1516, 



which would have made him seventeen when his father 
married Catherine Willoughby. If that is so, and if in fact he 
was to have married Catherine, it is puzzling that they had 
not already been married, or at least formally betrothed, 
before the French Queen's death; they were a proper age for 
marriage according to the custom of the time. The boy was 
probably delicate he may have inherited his mother's frail 
physique for he died in March of 1534, only six months 
after his father's marriage to Catherine. Gossip, again 
Spanish, said that he died of a broken heart. But this is hard 
to believe of any normal lad. 

Catherine's marriage to the duke had made her mistress of 
the house in which she had lived as a daughter for nearly half 
of her short life. If the transition was difficult for her, she 
showed no sign of it in her outward demeanour. Little is 
recorded about the early years of her life as Duchess of 
Suffolk; on the subject of her marriage there is a blank.^But 
Catherine herself was never a blank. She was young, she was 
inexperienced, and the early years of her marriage to the 
duke were years of gaining confidence, learning to carry her 
newly acquired dignity, how to be mistress of a great house- 
hold, wife of an experienced man with an important position 
both in the county and at Court. There was nothing of 
national import in that life of hers, and so hardly any records 
have been preserved. But she seems to have been not un- 
happy as Suffolk's wife; he was a man of great charm and 
personal magnetism, very proud of the beauty and of the 
developing intelligence and wit of his young wife. 

The period during which Catherine Willoughby, Duchess 
of Suffolk, was maturing into womanhood was a time of 
violent change in England, political and religious upheaval, 
which had a deep and penetrating effect upon the thinking 



and the life of the young duchess. Brought up in the comfort- 
able and secure imprisonment that was the life of a well-to-do, 
noble child, Catherine's mind had never remained closed, 
comfortably or otherwise. From her childhood when, as a 
very little girl, Catherine had played alone in the halls and 
gardens of Parham Old Hall, her mind had been active and 
questioning. In her childhood, however, there had been little 
to question. The Tudors were established and had sat for 
thirty-five years upon the throne of England. The gay and 
popular king, Henry VIII, bluff Kong Hal, sat on the throne 
at Westminster, his queenly and admirable Catherine by his 
side. No Englishman was ever seriously to question the 
Tightness of Henry as King of England. As for the Church: 
the Pope in far-off Rome was the head of that Church, and 
the king should and did lead the kingdom in worshipping 
according to the ritual and belief of the Roman Church; not 
many Englishmen, hardly any of them actively or publicly, 
questioned the wisdom of that either certainly not a little 
girl playing by herself in Suffolk. Such things were beyond 
the thoughts of a child, and they would hardly have been 
questioned even by those whose talk she might hear, whose 
ideas she might absorb. But 'why' is the "word of children, 
and there is no reason to suppose that little Catherine 
Willoughby was different from other children in wanting to 
know the answers to her questions. She was to develop into a 
woman with a mind of her own, with strong opinions based 
upon her own thinking. It would not be surprising if the 
habit of thinking for herself which was to characterize her all 
through her life was formed very early, as a little girl who 
seldom had anyone to whom she could turn with the count- 
less questions of childhood. 

The changes in England which were to have a far-reaching 



effect upon the life and thinking of Catherine Willoughby 
had begun to take place even before her marriage to the Duke 
of Suffolk. Henry VIII was all but fanatical in his wish to 
have sons to inherit the throne of England, and to make sure 
that the Tudor line would continue after his death. Only one 
of the children of Catherine of Aragon had lived a 
daughter, Mary. And some time before 1530, Henry had 
realized that his wife would have no more children. How 
much his subsequent acts were motivated by his very real 
wish for a son, how much by the fact that he had wearied of 
Catherine of Aragon and was infatuated with Anne Boleyn, 
who was willing to become his wife but not his mistress, is 
beside the point. He divorced his Spanish queen, and in so 
doing he broke with the Pope and the Roman Church and 
set up his own Church in England on the pattern of the 
Roman Church, with the same ritual and many of the same 
priests, but without allegiance to the Pope. 

The whole business of Henry's divorce and his marriage to 
Anne was distressing to the Duke of Suffolk and the French 
Queen, who loved and respected Catherine of Aragon; it was 
disturbing to Catherine Willoughby, whose own mother 
was so devoted to her royal mistress. Suffolk's loyalty to his 
king, however, was very deep, and he never let his own 
opinions regarding Henry's marital escapades cloud that 
loyalty. The French Queen died even as Anne Boleyn was 
being crowned. And Catherine Willoughby's first appear- 
, ance at Court as Duchess of Suffolk was very possibly at the 
j christening of Anne Boleyn's baby, the infant princess 
Elizabeth, when the Duke of Suffolk was one of the sup- 
porters of the old Duchess of Norfolk, the baby's godmother. 
Anne Boleyn was no better than she might have been. 
And she was never popular in England. She was vain and 



overbearing," and she was shrewish. There were few tears 
shed for her when she was executed for treason in 1536. One 
thing about Anne, however, was important in the story of 
Catherine Willoughby: she was very much interested in the 
reformed religion. During her brief period of ascendancy, her 
husband, the orthodox King Henry, was tolerant of the 
movement and interested in it to the point that men were 
licensed to preach at his Court who were the spokesmen of 
reform, men who had studied and were expounding the 
beliefs and tenets of the Continental thinkers and divines. 
These men were preaching not only the break from Rome; 
they were promoting a simpler Church, a service in English 
which the people could understand, and, basically important, 
they were promoting the Bible in English and the teaching 
in English of the Lord's Prayer, the Creed and the Ten Com- 
mandments. Thomas Cranmer was, of course, the foremost 
of the Protestants Cranmer whom Henry had contrived 
to make Archbishop of Canterbury in order that he might 
manage the divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Cranmer 
was a strong supporter of religious reform, but he was 
discreet too. Alone among the liberal ecclesiastics, he never 
lost his hold on the king's loyalty and affection. But there 
were numbers of others in the decade of 1530, men who were 
zealous and outspoken champions of reform. Of these the 
most eloquent was Hugh Larimer, one of the leaders of the 
group that has come to be known as the Cambridge Re- 
formers, since many of them came from the University of 
Cambridge. Hugh Latimer preached for the first time before 
the king at the Court at Windsor on March I3th, the second 
Sunday in Lent of 1530. Thereafter he preached frequently 
before Henry, who made him Bishop of Worcester in 1535. 
Other reformers, men of zeal and conviction, preached at 



Court during this period; but Latimer was the most import- 
ant, he was the most eloquent and the most influential. And 
so, at the impressionable age of her mid-teens, the young 
Duchess of Suffolk, at Court with her husband, often listened 
to the sermons of Hugh Latimer, listened with the rapt 
attention of a thoughtful young woman just finding out for 
herself exactly what she thought and what she believed. It is 
certain that Latimer and the duchess met and talked together 
and that, during the 1530$, she was exposed to the brifliance 
and sincerity of this man, one of the greatest and most 
powerful exponents of religious reform in sixteenth-century 

During all the vicissitudes and changes of Henry's reign, 
the Duke of Suffolk served his king with loyalty and devo- 
tion, performing whatever services his sovereign asked of him 
to the best of his ability, even when they were difficult or 
personally distasteful. As Suffolk never swerved in his 
loyalty to his king, Henry never swerved in his loyalty to the 
duke. And Catherine of Suffolk stood staunchly by her 
husband, giving him the devotion of a loving wife as she 
herself took an increasing part in her husband's life and in the 
activities of the Court. 

Almost the first task required of Suffolk, after his marriage 
to Catherine Willoughby, was one which was extremely 
difficult for him. It was one which caused sorrow to his 
young duchess and to her mother, the Dowager Lady 
Willoughby. Suffolk was sent, in charge of a small group, to 
Buckden Palace in Huntingdonshire, where the divorced 
queen Catherine of Aragon was living, with orders from 



Henry to dismiss a number of her servants, to swear the 
remainder to her as princess, not queen, and finally to remove 
Catherine herself to Somersham, in the Isle of Ely, an 
unhealthy and unpleasant place in the middle of the Fens. 
Suffolk of course undertook the mission, and he did his best 
to carry out his master's wishes. But he was not happy about 
it. The Spanish ambassador told the Emperor Charles, his 
master : 

The Duke of Suffolk, before he left the city on such an 
errand, confessed, and partook of the Communion, as 
his mother-in-law [Maria de Salinas] has sent to inform 
me; declaring at the time of his departure that he 
wished that some accident might happen to him on the 
road that should exempt him at once from accomplish- 
ing such a mission on such a journey. 

Chapuys was always ready with his comments, and not 
always accurate. Also he was a staunch adherent to Catherine 
of Aragon. But in this case what he said probably reflected 
the duke's feeling pretty closely. No accident did occur, 
however. Suffolk was received by Catherine and declared to 
her the king's command. Catherine refused to budge; the 
duke reported to the Privy Council that 'the Princess 
dowager is the most obstinate woman that may be. There is 
no remedy but to convey her by force to Somersham.' 
Force Suffolk did not use. It was fortunate for him that he 
had not been instructed to use it, for it would have been 
next to impossible for him to have removed forcibly, to an 
unpleasant place, a woman whom he revered and respected, 
who was loved by his wife, Catherine, and by his late wife, 
the French Queen. So, although Suffolk conveyed the king's 
messages and orders to Catherine of Aragon, he left that 



lady in Buckden, exactly where she was. And there she 
stayed until some time during the next year, 1534, when she 
moved to Kimbolton, not far from the town of Huntingdon, 
where she continued for the year and a half that was left to 
her of life, somewhat more comfortable than she had been at 
Buckden, but still a virtual prisoner. 

In December of 1535, Catherine of Aragon was critically 
ill. The news of her condition reached Catherine of Suffolk's 
mother at her house in London late in the month. Lady 
Willoughby had been unable to get licence from the king to 
visit her royal mistress. She was still unable to secure it. But 
in refusing her permission, Henry did not reckon on the 
resourcefulness and determination of Catherine of Aragon's 
lady-in-waiting. She was no longer young, but she set out 
from the Barbican, her London house, on horseback in the 
dark hours before dawn on New Year's Eve. Out of the city 
she rode, and up the North Road leading to Huntingdon. 
It was a tough ride for a woman, in the cold raw air through 
a countryside bleak and barren in the grey half-light of 
winter. It was a hazardous ride through sparsely inhabited 
country, where rogues and vagabonds in those days of 
poverty and unemployment would not have hesitated to 
waylay an apparently affluent woman and her small group of 
servants. A good deal of Catherine of Suffolk's character, her 
courage and determination, came to her from her Spanish 
mother. Lady Willoughby got to the house where her dying 
mistress lay; somehow she gained entry, and once inside she 
found her way to the queen's chamber and never left it until 
six days later, after the unhappy queen had died in her arms. 

Catherine of Aragon was buried in the Benedictine Abbey 
of Peterborough (now Peterborough Cathedral). Frances 
Brandon, Marchioness of Dorset,, was the chief mourner, and 



the young Duchess of Suffolk was the second mourner. 
Not long after Queen Catherine's death, her successor, Anne 
Boleyn, was put in the Tower, attainted of treason and 
finally executed. 

In the autumn of 1536 a rebellion against Henry's govern- 
ment took place in Lincolnshire, and spread to the counties to 
the north. It was known as the Pilgrimage of Grace, and was 
a protest, among other things, against the suppression of the 
monasteries which was taking place throughout England. 
The Duke of Suffolk was in charge of the army which put 
down the uprising in the county of Lincoln, and in that 
particular county it was put down quickly. While the duke 
was busy fighting the rebellion, his young duchess was at 
home in Lincolnshire; by 1536, Catherine and Charles 
Brandon made either Tattershall Castle or Grimsthorpe in 
the county of Lincoln their principal residence, only going 
back to Suffolk when business demanded their presence 
there. Lincolnshire was not unlike Suffolk, perhaps less 
sunny, and on the whole, damper, but it was a pleasant 
countryside, and Catherine was always happy there. During 
the rebellion, it was not altogether the safest place for the wife 
of the man who was suppressing the rebels, not as safe as 
London would have been. But in Lincolnshire, Catherine 
was near her husband, and could see him occasionally, and 
so in Lincolnshire the stout-hearted duchess stayed, and 
stayed in complete safety as it turned out. Later on, Henry 
recognized the services of the duke in putting down the 
rebellion by handsome grants of land in the county to him 
and his duchess, lands close to Grimsthorpe which, of course, 
belonged to the duchess as an inheritance from her father. 

By 1537, Catherine and Charles Brandon had two sons. 
Their first boy was born in September of 1535. They named 



him Henry, and the king was his godfather; King Henry, 
himself so desirous of having a son of his own, was happy to 
stand sponsor for the little son of his favourite. Early in 
1537, a second baby was born to the duchess, a boy whom 
she named after his father, Charles Brandon. And on October 
I2th, 1537, Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife, whom he had 
married soon after Anne Boleyn's execution, gave the king 
his son and heir. The king's joy and the joy of the country 
knew no bounds. Now the Tudor line would go on ! Now 
the government was secure ! It never occurred to anyone in 
the year 1537 that a girl-child could carry on that line; it was 
beyond the imagination of even the wildest dreamer that the 
sovereign who would bring that line to its superbly successful 
culmination would be the slender, auburn-haired little girl, 
Elizabeth, who watched as her baby brother was baptized. 

When he was a week old, the baby prince was christened 
in the chapel at Hampton Court, with Thomas Cranmer, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, and the two dukes, Norfolk and 
Suffolk, as his godfathers. Into the chapel came the highest 
dignitaries of England, ecclesiastical and lay, the clergy in 
their most magnificent robes, gold-embroidered; the ladies 
in gorgeous gowns of brocade and velvet in colours as rich as 
those of the jewels that hung about their necks ; and the 
gentlemen resplendent in doublet and hose, slashed skeves 
showing gleaming white silk under-sleeves, golden chains 
glittering about their shoulders, cloaks falling in rich folds to 
their heels. The sunlight through the stained-glass windows 
caught the lustrous colours of gown and mantle, the silver 
and gold and the precious gems, making the whole brilliant 
assemblage glitter and shine like an open jewel-case in the 
warm light. And in the midst of it all and most gorgeous of 
all, King Henry moved about, magnificent in white and gold, 



genial and charming to everyone, his pride and his satisfaction 
showing in his every movement. The young princesses stood, 
silent and grave; little Elizabeth watching with wide eyes, 
her sister Mary, self-important as the baby's godmother, 
careful and solicitous. And the queen, frail little Jane Seymour, 
watched from her litter, weak and half sick, but happy that 
she had given her king his wished-for heir, the little Prince 
Edward. A week later she was dead, possibly of pneumonia, 
contracted perhaps as she was carried on her pallet through 
the draughty passages of the palace to her son's baptism. 

In all the brilliant company who witnessed the young 
prince's christening, no lady was more beautiful, none more 
charming than the young Duchess of Suffolk. She had been 
duchess for four years now, her dignity was no longer strange 
to her. But it sat lightly upon her; she was gentle, gracious 
and lovely, never pompous, never overbearing; she moved 
easily in any company, high or humble. Shortly after the 
prince's christening, John Hussee, confidential agent in 
England for Lord and Lady Lisle when Lord Lisle was deputy 
of Calais, wrote a letter to his mistress. He was referring to 
Lady Lisle's daughter, Katherine Bassett, when he said, 'Lady 
Rutland and Lady Sussex say you cannot bestow Mistress 
Katherine better than with my Lady Suffolk, for the duchess 
is both virtuous, wise and discreet/ At this date the duchess 
was undoubtedly still the quiet young woman who thought 
her own thoughts and kept her own counsel, antagonizing 
no one and pleasing everyone by the beauty, charm and 
kindliness that were her characteristics. But as time went on, 
discretion was not an outstanding characteristic of Catherine 
of Suffolk. Virtuous she certainly was, and wise and intelli- 
gent. But her ready wit and quick tongue, coupled with a 
keen mind which cut through externals to the heart of any 



matter, often led her to make remarks which could scarcely 
be called discreet. And before many years, her outspokenness 
would be noticed, and her barbed remarks at the expense of 
self-important people, people who, in another reign, would 
occupy powerful positions, would be the cause of very real 
peril to this high-spirited young woman. 
/ Catherine of Suffolk's mother died in 1539. She died at 
Grimsthorpe, where she was living with her daughter and 
the duke. As the mother of the second-ranking duchess in the 
kingdom, the mother-in-law of the king's favourite, it 
might be expected that she would have had a formal and 
ceremonial funeral, with official mourners and all the 
gloomy pomp that went with such rites. But no account of 
her funeral exists. There is a legend that she was buried in 
Catherine of Aragon's grave in Peterborough; and the story 
goes on to tell how, when the grave was opened at the end 
of the nineteenth century, two bodies were discovered, both 
of them recognizable, and how one of them was Lady 
Willoughby. There is no support for the story in fact. The 
archives of Peterborough contain no record of a second 
burial in Queen Catherine's grave. Moreover, although the 
grave was opened in 1884, the inner, leaden, coffin was not 
disturbed and no second body was discovered. 1 Maria de 
Salinas may actually have been buried in Peterborough. It 
was undoubtedly her wish to be buried as near as possible to 
the burial place of her beloved mistress. But all we know for 
fact is that she died; and it is fair to guess that she was buried 
according to the rites of the Catholic Church to which she, 
like her royal mistress, had been loyal all her life. 

King Henry had remained a widower for two years after 
Jane Seymour's death. But in 1539 he was once more thinking 
of matrimony. Earlier, Chapuys had written to the Emperor, 



'The king has been masking and visiting with the Duchess of 
Suffolk.' The duke and duchess by this time spent a good deal 
of time in London, either at Suffolk House or at the Barbican. 
Catherine could take as active a part as she wished in Court 
life; she was a popular hostess and a sought-after guest. It is 
not surprising that the king, with his love of gaiety and of the 
give-and-take of clever repartee, found the duke's witty and 
charming wife delightful and stimulating, or that he enjoyed 
'masking and visiting' with her. 

The king married his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, late in 
the year 1539. She came over to England from her native 
country at the end of December, to be met at Canterbury by a 
brilliant assembly of ladies of the Court. The Duchess of 
Suffolk was the highest-ranking lady in the group, and the 
duke reported Anne's reception to Thomas Cromwell, 
Henry's principal minister: 

The mayor and citizens of Canterbury received her 
Grace with torchlight and a good deal of guns. In her 
Grace's chamber were forty or fifty gentlewomen, in 
velvet bonnets, to see her, all which her Grace took 
very joyously. 

Each lady in the welcoming party was attended by a 
knight or a squire, wearing a chain of gold and dressed in a 
coat or gown 'of velvet or other good stuff'. The ladies in 
their jewel-coloured gowns of velvet or rich brocade, their 
skirts standing out in glowing hoops over the farthingales, 
their jewels sparkling in the candle-light that brightened the 
dark of a grey winter day, with their attendant knights 
resplendent in their gorgeous doublets and plumed hats, gave 
Anne a reception fit in every way for a queen. 

The marriage between Henry and Anne, for reasons which 



need not detain us, was not a success. An amicable divorce 
was arranged, and in 1540 the king married for the fifth time. 
His queen was Catherine Howard, young, pretty and 

In the summer of 1541, the king and Queen Catherine 
went north on a progress. They travelled as far as York, 
stopping en route to visit various members of the nobility 
in their homes, where the royal pair were lavishly entertained 
and where the king held meetings of his Privy Council. It 
was a large and gay company that travelled through the 
English countryside, the king and queen with their great 
train of servants and retainers, followed by members of the 
Council with theirs. The Duke of Suffolk was regular in his 
attendance at meetings of the Council, but early in August he 
left the progress and hastened back to Grimsthorpe, to be 
ready and waiting, with his duchess, for his sovereign's visit 
to them. On August 8th the royal couple and their company 
rode through the gates and up to the great house of Grims- 
thorpe, a house which the duke had rebuilt on a magnificent 
scale in anticipation of just such a visit as this. Now the 
moment had come, and the duke and duchess stood in their 
doorway and watched their king and his entourage ride into 
the forecourt, banners flying in the breeze, the trappings of 
the horses and the gay colours of the riders' costumes bright 
in the summer sunshine. 

A visit from a Tudor monarch was not an unmixed bless- 
ing. The honour of having his sovereign choose to make his 
house a stopping place was coveted and cherished by any of 
the nobility. But the cost to the host was far from insignifi- 
cant. Besides the king and queen themselves, there were 
ladies- and gendemen-in-waiting, servants, grooms, horses; 
and Privy Councillors who did not live close by might be 



part of the company, with their wives and their servants and 
horses. Only a house of magnificent size could begin to hold 
them all. Then there would be feasting; music and enter- 
tainment such as masques and tourneys would have to be 
provided. As the first of the horsemen came clattering into 
the cobbled fore-court, with harness jingling and colours 
flying, the noble host waiting in his doorway must have 
heard, in his mind, the jingle of gold coins tumbling out of 
his pocket to pay the grocers, the vintners, the musicians and 
players and all the scores of persons who would contribute to 
the royal entertainment. The Duke and Duchess of Suffolk 
were better able than some to provide entertainment on such 
a scale, but even for them the cost was probably staggering. 

More was going on at Grimsthorpe during this royal visit 
than music and masques, feasting and jousting and meetings 
of the Council. Catherine Howard, the beautiful young queen 
of whom her husband was so proud, upon whom he literally 
doted, had led a pretty promiscuous life before her marriage 
to Henry. At the start of her life with the king she was very 
circumspect, very careful and very eager to please her hus- 
band; but by this summer of 1541, she had gone back to her 
former ways. She had made Francis Dereham, one of her 
former lovers, her secretary; and Thomas Culpeper, her 
cousin and the most serious and ardent of all her loves, was 
one of the king's gentlemen-in-waiting and was with them 
on this progress. At Grimsthorpe there was a little back 
staircase, and up that staircase, with the connivance of one of 
Queen Catherine's ladies-in-waiting, came Culpeper for 
stolen meetings with the queen. 

The duke and duchess were not aware of what was going 
on under their roof. Nor did the king know or dream of his 
wife's infidelity. But too many people did know, and after 



the royal pair were back at Court, the information, with 
unquestionable proof, was placed in the king's hands. This 
was treason, and Catherine Howard paid the penalty for 
treason the next February the second of Henry's queens to 
die by the executioner's axe. 

Henry's sixth wife, whom he married in July of 1543, was 
an old friend of the Duchess of Suffolk. She was a widow, 
attractive, though not the glamorous young woman her 
predecessor had been. But she was charming and virtuous, 
wise and kind, intelligent and gentle; she was queenly in her 
dignity and grace. She was eight years older than the duchess ; 
their community of interests, their mutual concern with 
matters of religion and of the new learning, had drawn them 
together and made the difference in their ages of no import- 
ance. Catherine of Suffolk was one of the small company of 
only seventeen persons who were present in Hampton Court 
chapel at the July ceremony which made Catherine Parr 
Henry's wife his sixth, and last, queen. 2 The duke was away 
in the north on business for the king, but even without him 
at her side, the duchess was happy, happy that the king was 
marrying a woman who she knew would be equal to the 
task of being his consort. Her friend, she knew, would never 
bore the king, she was far too intelligent for that; she would 
never antagonize him, she was far too prudent; she would 
care for him and for his children with love and intelligence 
and tact. And Catherine Parr fulfilled all of the duchess's high 
hopes and expectations. 

The Duke of Suffolk died on August 22nd, 1545. The day 
before his death, he had been present at a meeting of the 


Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk 


Privy Council at Guildford, where the king was staying. 
Charles Brandon's last illness was sudden and short, but his 
duchess was at his bedside when he died, as were his two 
daughters, Frances and Eleanor. 

Many besides his own family mourned the duke's death. 
Not the least of these was his king, who was deeply grieved. 
When the death was announced in the Privy Council meet- 
ing, Henry remarked that in all their long friendship the duke 
had never attempted to hurt an adversary, nor had he ever 
said a word to injure anyone. 'Is there any of you, my Lords/ 
the king added, 'who can say as much?' 

In his will, the duke requested 'that my body be buried 
in the college church in Tattershall ... without any pomp or 
outward pride of the world, and that certain ... dirges be 
done for me by all the priests of the same college and others 
of my chaplains only, according to the ancient and laudable 
custom of the Church of England.' But the king had other 
ideas. By royal command and at the king's expense, the Duke 
of Suffolk was buried in St George's chapel, Windsor, and 
requiem masses were said for him at Westminster Abbey and 
at St Paul's Cathedral. 




CATHERINE OF SUFFOLK'S life with the duke, so far as 
we know, had been a happy one. While there is little 
or nothing recorded about her years with her noble 
husband, her own development was in itself a record. She 
had become competent and easy in the complicated business 
of running a large establishment, charming and gracious in 
her social contacts. She was particularly noted for her wit; 
Fuller described her as 'a lady of a sharp wit and sure hand to 
thrust it home and make it pierce when she pleased'. 1 But she 
did not use that wit at the expense of those who could not 
answer her because of their lowly estate. She was never mean 
or unkind. Instinctively and always, she was a great lady. 

She was much more than that, however, and much more 
than clever and witty and sophisticated. Behind her charming 
and adept manner lay an intelligent mind, which demanded 
valid reasons for everything, which never endorsed beliefs 
and customs merely because they had always been accepted, 
but insisted upon knowing that they were good, and why, 
before adopting them. Alert and inquiring all her life, she 
was always searching for the truth, and once she was con- 
vinced and believed a position to be essentially right, she 
never wavered in her adherence to it and her championing 
of it. Intellectual and spiritual integrity was the very essence 
of Catherine's character, and it governed her performance in 
every problem which confronted her throughout her life. 



Notably it governed her attitude and actions in matters 
religious. By the latter part of the 15305, she was definitely 
turning towards the direction in which she was to go for the 
rest of her Hfe. She was turning towards the New Religion, 
the religion which not only opposed the Roman faith and 
ritual, but which found even Henry's Anglican Catholicism 
too much like the Roman in its confessionals and liturgy, its 
mass and its veneration of saints. 

The earliest outward indication of Catherine's religious 
inclination showed itself in connection with appointments to 
her household. Some time in the late 1530$, the Duke and 
Duchess of Suffolk appointed a new private chaplain. The 
man whom they chose was Alexander Seton, a Scottish friar 
who had been at one time confessor to King James V of 
Scotland. In about the year 1535 Seton had, in John Knox's 
words, 'begun to tax the corrupt doctrine of the papacy', and 
to maintain that 'the law of God had of many years not been 
truly taught.' These heretical preachings had outraged the 
Scottish bishops, who had accused Seton to King James; 
whereupon, fearful of his king's anger, he had fled to England. 
Once there, again according to Knox, he had 'taught the 
evangel' for some years. During most of those years he lived 
in the household of Suffolk and his duchess, as their chaplain. 
In 1541 he was forced to recant. He probably did it to save his 
skin, and his recantation was very likely merely a form for 
him, which he went through without real conviction. He 
died in the duke's house in 1542. 

His successor as private chaplain to the duke and duchess 
was a more heroic figure, John Parkhurst, a Surrey man by 
birth and a staunch Protestant who never wavered in his 
'profession of the Gospel and abhorrence of popery'. Park- 
hurst lived in the Suffolk household until some time in 1543, 



when he became domestic chaplain to Queen Catherine Parr. 
He went into exile when the Catholic queen, Mary, came to 
the throne. John Strype wrote of his going : 

The cause of religion was so dear to him that ... he 
took up a resolution to leave the kingdom, whatever 
dangers and evils befell him, and piously commended 
himself to the protection of God, against hangmen and 
papists, putting them together as equally dealing in 
blood ... And now being departed from his native 
country . . . especially he had a great concern for the 
princess Elizabeth and for his noble patroness, the 
good duchess of Suffolk. 2 

When he was not preaching the Gospel, Parkhurst appears 
to have turned his hand to writing Latin verses about all and 
sundry. Some of these verses were epitaphs, some were 
eulogies of living men or women. The verse he wrote about 
the Duchess of Suffolk was laudatory to a degree. 

Aeternum salve, princeps clarissima mentis 

Dotibus, eximiis ad numeranda viris 
Vix did potent, quantum tribuat tibi vulgus, 

Quantum magnates, docta que turba virum. 
Nil tarn suspidunt homines tua stemmata clara 

Insignes dotes quam, Catharina tuos. 

What Parkhurst said was, 'Hail for ever, illustrious princess ! 
The endowments of thy mind place thee on a level with men 
of the highest distinction. One can scarcely say how much all 
people the common folk, nobility and men of learning 
alike esteem thee, holding thee in high regard, O 
Catherine, not so much for thy glorious heritage as for thy 
singular talents/ 3 



Alexander Seton and John Parkhurst each played his part 
in the spiritual development of Catherine of Suffolk. The 
important fact, however, is that two such men were chosen 
by the duchess and her husband to be their household chap- 
lains. Pretty clearly, by the end of the decade of the 15305, the 
duke and duchess were definitely sympathetic to the reformed 
religion. The duke's will, dated 1544, in which he called for 
'dirges ... according to the ancient and laudable custom of 
the Church of England', leads one to suspect that he may have 
been prepared to go less far than was his duchess. However 
that might have been, Catherine and her husband did 
appoint successively two men, both professed exponents of 
reform, to have charge of the spiritual welfare of their house- 
hold, and they did so during a period when the king's think- 
ing had become most reactionary, his profession of orthodoxy 
most rigid. 

But it was neither Alexander Seton nor John Parkhurst 
who made the initial and profound impression upon 
Catherine of Suffolk's thinking, who answered the question- 
ing mind and satisfied the awakening religious fervour of the 
young duchess. Seton and Parkhurst were appointed after 
the change had come, when Catherine knew what was the 
direction of her thinking. The man who influenced her most 
deeply and who was to be her spiritual guide and mentor 
throughout her life even after she went into exile for her 
belief and he died at the stake for his was Hugh Larimer. 4 

Hugh Larimer was the son of a tenant farmer in Thur- 
caston, a small hamlet just north of Leicester. He was born 
about the year 1492, and in 1506 or thereabouts he went up 
to Cambridge University to study for the priesthood. He 
was ordained in July of 1515. From the start of his career he 
was a vigorous and compelling preacher; much later it was 



said of him that he had 'disseminated more heresies than 
Luther'. During the first nine years of his priesthood, how- 
ever, his very considerable talents and energy were directed 
to opposing, with all the strength and eloquence at his 
command, the New Learning and reformed religion at that 
time being studied and discussed very widely at Cambridge. 
And then, in 1524, Hugh Latimer, by that time chaplain of 
the University, gave his disputation for the degree of 
Bachelor of Divinity. His oration was a vehement attack 
upon the reforming doctrines being preached by Philip 
Melanchthon, Martin Luther's right-hand man. In the 
audience that day, listening to Latimer make his address, was 
Thomas Bilney, also a priest and four years Larimer's junior. 
Earlier, Bilney had been converted to the New Religion by 
the study of Erasmus's New Testament, which, using the 
Greek text rather than the Latin, amended and revised the 
traditional Vulgate, to the rage and horror of the reaction- 
aries and conservatives in England. He was a man of deep 
religious conviction and of great sweetness and gentleness : 
later Latimer called him, affectionately, 'little Bilney'. He 
listened to the oration, and after it was all over, he went to 
see Latimer in his rooms. What happened there is best told 
in Larimer's own words, many years later at Grimsthorpe, 
Catherine of Suffolk's Lincolnshire home, in his first sermon 
on the Lord's Prayer : 

Here I have to tell you a story which happened at 
Cambridge. Master Bilney, or rather Saint Bilney, that 
suffered death for God's Word's sake, the same Bilney 
was the instrument whereby God called me to know- 
ledge; for I may thank him, next to God, for that 
knowledge that I have in the Word of God. For I was as 



obstinate a papist as any was in England, insomuch that 
when I should be made bachelor of divinity, my 
whole oration went against Philip Melancthon and 
against his opinions. Bilney heard me at that time, and 
perceived that I was zealous without knowledge; and 
he came to me afterwards in my study, and desired me, 
for God's sake, to hear his confession. I did so; and to 
say the truth, by his confession I learned more than 
before in many years. So from that time forward I began 
to smell the word of God, and forsook the school 
doctors and such fooleries. 

In such manner was Hugh Larimer's conversion begun. 
From then on, he gave his whole-hearted devotion to the 
study of Erasmus's Testament and of the reformed thinking, 
which resulted in making him, always a forceful and 
compelling preacher, into one of the foremost exponents of 
the New Religion in early sixteenth-century England. 

In the year following his conversion, Larimer spent as 
much time as he could in Bilney's company. The two men 
formed the habit of taking a daily walk together. Latimer 
would come out of Clare Hall, where he lived, close by the 
soaring stone laciness of the newly completed King's College 
Chapel, gleaming white in the afternoon light. He would 
walk along the bank of the little river Cam, meeting Bilney 
at Trinity Hall, near by, and together they would stroll 
under the arching trees, down the lane and across the fields 
to Castle Hill on the road that led to Ely - Castle Hill, so 
named after William the Conqueror's fortress-castle which 
had stood there since the eleventh century. Because of 
Larimer's and Bilney's love of this particular place, it came 
to be known as 'Heretics' Hill', a name that stuck to it for 



many years to come. Here the two would pace back and 
forth, talking together through the afternoon hours, until 
the fading light and the sudden chill of early evening would 
remind them of how time had passed. 

His conversion and his friendship with Thomas Bilney 
were the turning points in Hugh Larimer's life. From the 
first day, when Bilney came to his room, Larimer devoted all 
his thought and energy, indeed all his life, to living and 
preaching the pure Gospel of Christ. He was to be raised 
high in the favour of King Henry and in the hierarchy of the 
English Church, and, later, because of his liberal belief and 
preaching, he was to be cast out by the same king. After 
Henry's death, in Edward's reign, he returned to the pulpit 
and preached sermons which today, four hundred years later, 
are still stirring in the impact of their sincerity. And finally he 
was to die for his faith, in the fire at a stake in Broad Street in 
Oxford. But before that last day he had opened the way to 
freedom of thought and worship, and to an understanding 
and love of the Bible, to countless English men and women. 

To Catherine of Suffolk, intense and thoughtful, the con- 
viction of this man who had been reared, like herself, in the 
Catholic faith, was profoundly moving. Like Catherine, 
Latimer wasji_deeply thoughtful person; for him as for her, 
religion was the^core oTHs thinking about life, and religious 
beli^was for tKemHSoth a matter of conviction, profound 
and unwavering, not of blind acceptance of tenets learned in 

Hugh Latimer preached for the first time in King Henry's 
Court in Lent of 1530. From that time until 1539, he was a 
more or less frequent preacher at Westminster. And he was 
Jso called upon for special sermons, such as the funeral 
sermon for Queen Jane Seymour, on occasions when a really 



great oration was indicated. Although he had broken from 
Rome, Henry VIII was fundamentally orthodox; but this was 
the time of the greatest religious freedom in his reign. It was 
also the period during which Catherine Willoughby was at 
her most impressionable age. It is not clear exactly when the 
young duchess met the man who was to teach her so much 
and influence her so deeply; however, as the devoted wife of 
the king's favourite, she was with her husband at Court on 
many occasions, when they both must have attended divine 
service in the royal chapel and have heard Larimer preach 
there. There is no doubt that the young duchess met and talked 
with the dedicated preacher at that time, and began to form 
the opinions and beliefs which she would hold firmly and 
support actively for the rest of her life. The friendship of this 
man of God and the duchess would last for the remainder of 
his days; the influence of her 'father Larimer' would be a 
part of Catherine of Suffolk as long as she lived, long after his 
own death. And so, by the year 1539, the year when Hugh 
Latimer was prohibited by King Henry from preaching in 
England, Catherine and her husband were prepared to 
appoint as their private chaplain a man who held the 
same beliefs as those for which Latimer himself had been 

One of Larimer's most unrelenting enemies was Stephen 
Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester an arch-conservative and 
the leader of the opposition to the New Religion. He was a 
member of Henry's Privy Council. Later on, in the reign of 
Henry's son, Edward, Gardiner was deprived and thrown into 
the Tower, and still later Edward's sister Mary, when she had 
become queen, released him and made him her Lord Chan- 
cellor. From that time on Gardiner persecuted, with un- 
flagging vigour, those whom he regarded as heretics, first 



and foremost Hugh Latimer. Catherine of Suffolk earned 
Gardiner's hatred, not only because of her religion, but also 
because of her wit and her readiness to make him the target 
for her quick tongue. One case in point occurred some time 
before 1545, on an occasion when the Duke of Suffolk and 
his duchess gave a large party. As dinner time approached, 
the duke asked each lady present to invite the gentleman she 
liked best to take her in to dinner; whereupon the duchess 
promptly walked up to Gardiner, saying, 'Since I may not 
ask my Lord whom I like best, I ask your Grace whom I like 
least.' Gardiner was a proud man, an unforgiving one. He 
never forgot nor forgave the duchess for such an open 
affront to his pride and dignity. This was only one of the 
remarks which he cited against Catherine years later, when 
he was seeking for evidence to prosecute her for heresy. The 
proud and reactionary Gardiner, whom Catherine neither 
liked nor respected, experienced her sarcasm more than once; 
and though Catherine had never sought to hide behind in- 
fluence and popularity, still the position of her husband in the 
king's affection undoubtedly saved her, during Henry's 
reign, from the retaliation which might have come to her if 
she had not been the wife of the king's favourite. As it was, 
retribution came, but a good deal later, and after both King 
Henry VIII and the Duke of Suffolk had been a long time 

Catherine of Suffolk was only about twenty-six years old 
when the duke died. She was one of the executors of his will 
(the others being the Lord Chancellor Wriothesley, Lord St 
John and Sir Anthony Browne), and inasmuch as the duke 



seems to have been always short of money and in debt, she 
spent many harassed hours worrying about how to satisfy 
his creditors. In October of 1545, two months after Charles 
Brandon's death, John Dymock, who was a sort of agent to 
the duke, wrote to Wriothesley that 'My Lord's Grace owes 
a great deal of money, as I will show at my coming/ It is not 
clear just how the duke's debts were discharged, or when, but 
apparently the duchess was able to maintain a household of 
forty persons in addition to the household servants - which 
she was licensed to do in May of 1546 not an inconsiderable 

The duchess did not stay in retirement for a prolonged 
period after her husband's death. Three months after the 
duke died, she gave a party at her house in London to 
celebrate the christening of the baby daughter of John Dudley, 
Lord Lisle, the Lord High Admiral of England. John Dudley 
had been a great favourite of Catherine's husband, who had 
himself knighted him during the French campaign in 1523. 
Later, in the reign of Henry's son, Edward, Dudley would 
come into great prominence as Duke of Northumberland; 
now he was simply the Lord High Admiral and an old friend 
of Catherine's husband and of Catherine herself. The duchess 
was one of the godmothers for the Admiral's infant, and the 
Princess Mary, King Henry's eldest daughter, was the other. 
The godfather was Van der Delft, ambassador to England of 
the Emperor Charles V of Spain. This was a happy occasion; 
one reason why it was so pleasant was that it took place 
during the period in Princess Mary's unhappy life when she 
was more nearly a normal and happy young woman than at 
any other time. Her father was then married to Catherine 
Parr who, with rare sweetness and tact, had drawn Henry's 
two daughters into a warm, loving family circle. Even Mary, 



embittered as she had been in her girlhood when her father 
had set her mother aside and had married, successively, 
women who were at best indifferent to her welfare or happi- 
ness, could not but respond to the warmth and affection of 
Catherine Parr. Of all her accomplishments in making the 
life of the irascible old king happy and serene, far from the 
least achievement of Henry's last queen was that she made 
both Mary and Elizabeth Tudor feel loved and wanted. 
There is an interesting entry at about this time in the privy 
purse expenditures of the Princess Mary. It reads, 'Delivered 
to my Lady's Grace to play at cards with my Lady of 
Suffolk, 235. 8d.' 3 This tiny entry reveals quite a different 
Mary from the more familiar, dour, stern and unhappy one. 
She and Catherine of Suffolk had never been close friends, 
although there was only four years' difference in their ages. 
And later on there would be real antagonism between them 
because of religion. But at just this time it seems clear that the 
princess was reaching out for companionship and finding 
some pleasure in the company of the duchess. 

Catherine of Suffolk and Catherine Parr, however, were 
always very close friends. But gentle as she was, and tactful 
and discreet, Queen Catherine was not without enemies who 
sought to discredit her and to undermine her position. In 
February of 1546, Van der Delft told the Emperor that 1 
hesitate to report there are rumours of a new queen ... 
Madame Suffolk is much talked about, and is in great favour, 
but the king shows no alteration in his behaviour to the 
queen.' This is the only suggestion that I have seen that the 
duchess was ever considered as a bride for Henry. The story 
was undoubtedly made up, with no foundation whatever in 
fact, by ardent Catholics who, perhaps because they realized 
how sympathetic the queen was to the reformed religion, 



were seeking for stories to circulate against her. A month 
earlier, Chapuys had written to Mary of Hungary, * ... the 
King favours these stirrers of heresy, the Earl of Hertford and 
Lord Admiral, which is to be feared ... because the queen, 
instigated by the Duchess of Suffolk, Countess of Hertford 
and the Admiral's wife, shows herself infected/ And men 
much closer to the king than the emperor's ambassador, the 
Lord Chancellor Wriothesley for one, and Gardiner also, did 
their best to discredit his queen in Henry's eyes. They did not 
succeed, nor did they succeed and they were probably 
trying to do so in breaking up the close friendship between 
Catherine Parr and Catherine of Suffolk. As for Catherine of 
Suffolk, the king for a long time had found her congenial and 
good company, and there is no doubt that because of her 
friendship with the queen, the duchess spent a considerable 
amount of time at the royal Court, where Henry as well as 
his wife enjoyed her presence. 

The duchess, a beautiful and well-to-do young widow, was 
naturally the subject of various speculations. One story 
about her was to the effect that, upon failing to get the 
Princess Mary as a bride, the King of Poland had tried to 
marry her. This was not a surprising story, whether true or 
not; and it would not have been strange if, on his visit to 
England, the Polish King had made overtures to the lovely 
young duchess ; he may well have done so. But Catherine of 
Suffolk never seriously entertained the idea of becoming 
Queen of Poland, or queen anywhere else for that matter. 

In the autumn of 1546, Henry's reign, with his life, was 
drawing towards its close. The people were beginning to 



realize the fact, and were looking ahead with some concern. 
A boy of barely ten years would ascend the throne, but who 
would rule England? Would it be the reformers, men like 
Hertford and Cranmer, or would it be the reactionaries like 
Gardiner and Wriothesley ? All of these men were high in the 
confidence of the old king; who, the people wondered, 
would rule over England until the boy king would be old 
enough to rule for himself? 

Henry had realized that he could not live until his son was 
old enough to take his full place, and he had given much 
thought to the business of providing a government for his 
boy's minority. The Council of Regency which he appointed 
numbered sixteen, and he named conservatives and liberals, 
Catholics and Protestants, to the group. Edward Seymour, 
the young king's uncle, was named, and John Dudley, by 
now Earl of Warwick; Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, was one of the Council, as was William Parr, 
Queen Catherine's brother. Henry's Lord Chancellor, 
Wriothesley, a Catholic and hater of heretics, was the out- 
standing Catholic in the group. The most notable omission 
was Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester and leader of 
the reactionary wing in Henry's own Privy Council, who 
was not named by the king. 

Henry may have thought that he was naming a Council of 
Regency in which the balance between liberal and conserva- 
tive was fairly even. But it quickly appeared that the strong 
men were men of liberal leanings, particularly in matters 
religious. Moreover, Edward's three tutors, all of them men 
of great learning, were also all men of known liberal sym- 
pathies. It is easy to be wise after the event. However, one 
cannot but wonder whether, in his last weeks and months, 
with death staring him in the face, Henry actually realized 



the inevitability of change in a more liberal direction, and 
tried to provide for that change. 

Henry VIII died on January 28th, 1547, and on February 
20th the boy king, Edward VI, was crowned in Westminster 
Abbey. Henry Brandon, the young Duke of Suffolk, 
Catherine's son, carried the orb in the coronation procession, 
and both he and his younger brother Charles were among 
those made Knights of the Bath in the coronation honours. 

And the young king's uncle, Edward Seymour, Earl of 
Hertford, became Duke of Somerset, and was fast on his way 
to becoming Lord Protector and the most powerful man in 
all England. 



yt FTER the ceremonies of Edward VTs coronation were 
L\ over, the Duchess of Suffolk returned to her beloved 
JL JL Grimsthorpe, leaving behind her the Court with its 
bustle and excitement, its intrigues and strivings for position, 
to go back to the quiet countryside she loved. With all 
Catherine's social ease and sophistication, she was a child of 
the country, and although she always maintained a house in 
London, it was Grimsthorpe which she regarded as home. It 
was not far from the little town of Bourne, a little to the 
north-west of it; and while the country south of Bourne was 
flat and uneventful, the hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds began 
to rise quite suddenly just north of the town. The great 
house of Grimsthorpe stood on a rise, looking over the fold- 
ing hills in all directions. A majestic house, it was built in the 
form of a square, of warm, grey stone, a tower rising at each 
corner and a grass area in the centre. Chimneys reached high 
above the slate roof, and leaded casements opened out over 
lawn and garden. There were fragrant herb beds; and there 
were borders of gaily coloured flowers, and lovely rose 
gardens with paths edged by low clipped yew, where 
Catherine loved to walk in the sunshine of a summer day or, 
wrapped in a long cloak, in the frequent gentle rain. The 
windows of her bedroom looked out over the rose gardens, 
their pink and crimson beauty was the first thing to greet her 



eyes when she looked out in the morning, and she went 
to sleep at night breathing deep of their fragrance. To 
the west of the house, just below the lawn, stretched a great 
meadow, where horses grazed and drank the clear water of 
the stream that wandered through the lush grass. And beyond 
the meadow stretched the deer park, acres of tall trees, 
towering oak and ash and beech, and wide-spreading chest- 
nuts. Catherine loved the house and the vast rolling acres, 
and she loved her life there, busy but peaceful, with time for 
thought and contemplation, so different from the harassed 
and cautious existence at Court. 

The maintenance of her large establishment was no small 
task, and Catherine was far from idle. She had been licensed 
to retain forty persons in her livery besides household ser- 
vants, but the number of servants in the household probably 
almost doubled that number, stewards, cooks, footmen, 
maidservants; they all came under her direction, and their 
welfare was her responsibility. And then the lands themselves, 
acre upon rolling acre; all had to be tended, planted and 
harvested, and the young duchess had to direct the work and 
see to it that it was well and effectively done. It was a sizeable 
job for a woman alone, but Catherine had learned her lessons 
well, first from the French Queen who had taught her all a 
young girl should know about running a house, and then 
from twelve years as the wife of a mature, experienced man. 
She ran her establishment smoothly and happily. 

Of all her responsibilities, the primary one and the one 
which gave her the greatest happiness and satisfaction was the 
welfare and education of her two sons. All that she did 
related to them, the care of her estates which would one day 
belong to them, her interest in the county, which was their 
county as well, and her care of their own health, in body and 



in mind. The wardship of Henry, the young Duke of Suffolk, 
had been awarded to Catherine in May of 1546. She left him 
at Court after King Edward's coronation, to be a companion 
to the boy king and to be tutored with him, but she was in 
touch with him and always knew how he was and how his 
education was progressing. Little Charles went back to 
Grimsthorpe, where he was taught by tutors, under his 
mother's supervision. 

The direction of her large menage and the care of her sons' 
upbringing were quite enough in themselves to fill the days 
of the average woman of Catherine's time. But Catherine was 
not a typical woman of her time. She did not find it necessary 
to spend long hours resting, or being made beautiful by 
hairdressers and waiting-maids as did so many ladies in her 
position in the sixteenth century. Nature had been very kind 
to Catherine of Suffolk. With her own natural beauty she 
needed little outside help to make her lovely to look upon; 
moreover, her active mind and body gave to beautiful 
features alertness and mobility. Her days were full of activity 
in outside matters which she believed to be important. Chief 
among these were matters of religion, the strengthening of 
Protestantism and the denunciation of popery. She started 
her work for religious reform in her own county as soon as 
she had got home to Grimsthorpe from Edward's coronation. 
In describing the work of the Reformation at that time, the 
historian John Strype remarked that it was greatly advanced 
'by the helping forwardness of that devout woman of God, 
the duchess of Suffolk'. It was written of her also that 

she was very active in seconding the efforts of govern- 
ment to abolish superfluous Holy Days, to remove 
images and relics from churches, to destroy shrines and 



other monuments of idolatry and superstition, to put an 
end to pilgrimages, to reform the clergy, to see that 
every church had provided, in some convenient place, 
a copy of the large Bible, to stir up the bishops, vicars 
and curates to diligence in preaching against the usurped 
authority of the Pope ; in inculcating upon all the reading 
of the Scriptures, and especially the young, the Pater 
Noster, the Articles of Faith and the Ten Command- 
ments in English. 

This was the essence of Catherine's religion, which she 
was sharing so actively with the people of her county, to 
bring the Word and the love of God to the people with 
whom she came in contact, to make it simple and under- 
standable. She was little concerned with theological problems 
per se; what mattered to her was her belief that no artificial 
barrier should stand between men and women and their God. 
The mass, the Latin service, the elaborate vestments, the 
shrines and monuments, all these were to her as it were 
screens that divided God from man. In the Catholic Church, 
she believed, the symbols had grown so important that they 
had taken the place of the essence. What really mattered to 
Catherine of Suffolk, all that really mattered, was God and 
His Word; and anything which came between God and His 
people, either in ritual or in church government, should be 
abolished. Quite simply, that was what she stood for and 
worked for all the rest of her life. No matter what difficulties 
came into her path, she never wavered in her belief or in her 
zeal to promote the religion which meant so much to her. 

A Lincolnshire neighbour and one of the closest friends of 



the duchess was William Cecil. Cecil was a year or so younger 
than Catherine. He had been born in the little town of 
Bourne, and educated at the Grantham Grammar School and 
at St John's College, Cambridge. His parental home, 
Burghley House, which he himself later enlarged and made 
into a great mansion, was at Stamford Baron. The little river 
Welland, dividing Lincolnshire from Northamptonshire, 
flows through the town of Stamford, and Burghley House 
stood about a mile south of the river in the county of 
Northampton, perhaps twenty miles south of Grimsthorpe. 
Cecil and the duchess had been neighbourly acquaintances 
for a number of years. From 1547 for the rest of her life he 
was her staunch friend and adviser. Whenever she had a 
problem in which she needed help or advice, she turned to 
him, and he always gave her his best counsel; and sometimes 
he in turn would ask her to use her ready wit and facile 
tongue in situations where he thought she might be helpful. 
Cecil entered the service of the Lord Protector Somerset in 
the year 1547. Thus began the service of his government 
and his country to which he was to devote the rest of his life, 
in which he was to rise to greatest heights as the principal 
minister of the great queen, Elizabeth Tudor, some years 
later. Fundamentally Cecil, like Catherine, was Protestant in 
his belief and his sympathies. But he was far more circum- 
spect than his friend the duchess, more careful of what he 
said and how he said it. Later on, particularly in Elizabeth's 
reign, he was very careful never to push his royal mistress 
further or faster than she was prepared to go in the direction 
of Protestantism. He knew the Tudors, knew their greatness 
and also their stubbornness, and he recognized the fact that 
excessive advocacy of the Protestant position might very well 
do more harm than good to the cause of religious reform 



with a sovereign who, although she was Protestant, was at the 
same time much more in accord with the orthodox forms of 
worship than with the less ritualistic pattern being pushed by 
the zealots. Catherine of Suffolk never understood her 
friend's position in this matter. To her it was expediency, 
pure and simple, and she scolded Cecil for it and told him 
what she thought of him in no measured terms whenever the 
opportunity arose to do so. Catherine was a fighting zealot, 
while William Cecil was a politique. It was difficult, always, 
for the zealot to understand the politique; but her affection for 
him and her loyalty to him never wavered, nor his for her. 
And she never doubted, nor had she ever reason to doubt, 
that he would give his help in any matter, whenever she asked 
for it, no matter how busy he might be with affairs of state. 

In November of 1547, the November after Edward's 
accession to the throne, a little pamphlet, written by Queen 
Catherine Parr, was published in London. It was a small 
pamphlet with a long title: 'The Lamentations of a Sinner, 
Made by the Most Virtuous Lady Queen Catherine, Be- 
wailing the Ignorance of her Blind Life, Set Forth and Put in 
Print at the Instant Desire of the Right Gracious Lady Cather- 
ine, duchess of Suffolk and the Earnest Request of the Right 
Honourable Lord, William Parr, Marquess of Northampton 
[Catherine Parr's brother]. 5 William Cecil wrote the intro- 
duction for the pamphlet, a rather cautious introduction, but 
it established beyond question the fact that his sympathies, 
however prudently expressed, lay with the reformers. 

Interest in religious reform was becoming widespread in 
the period immediately following King Henry VIII's death, 
and popular demand for Catherine Parr's pamphlet was 
great enough to make a second edition necessary in March of 
1548. The booklet was a fairly discreet little essay, written as 



it was by the queen of an orthodox king, and actually written 
during his lifetime even though it was not published until 
after his death. It left no doubt in anyone's mind that its 
author, as well as those who were associated in its publication, 
were all firm believers in the reformed religion, the pure 
Gospel of Christ as they saw it. 

The reform movement was growing in a sympathetic 
atmosphere in the days of Edward VT s reign. Edward 
Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector, who was 
an old friend of the Duchess of Suffolk's, was a strong 
supporter of the New Religion, as were most of the Council 
who really counted. The boy king himself, by birth, inclina- 
tion and education, leaned definitely to the Protestant posi- 
tion. He was only a boy, to be sure, but he was intelligent 
beyond his years, and he was the anointed King of England, 
and the fact that his support was given freely and not under 
pressure from his councillors was a source of great satisfaction 
and strength to the reformers. During the latter part of King 
Henry's reign, when the king was so rigid in his orthodoxy, 
they had had to be very careful not to incur the royal dis- 
pleasure or to risk retaliation from the reactionaries who 
occupied high positions in the king's confidence and trust. 
Of all the spiritual leaders of reform, Cranmer alone had 
continued to enjoy freedom and the loyal support of his 
king. Henry never forgot the part Cranmer had played in 
his divorce of Catherine of Aragon; and so, during the latter 
part of the reign, Cranmer was able to do, and did do, as 
much as anyone could to keep the forces of reaction at least 
in check, and he could do so because he was always careful 
not to overstep the thin line that lay between the king's 
favour and the king's wrath. Cranmer was not the most 
heroic of the reformers, but the reform movement owed much 



to his wisdom and astuteness. Moreover, he left behind 
when he finally died for his faith, a legacy for which English- 
speaking men and women must always be grateful to him 
a service of worship in the English language so beautiful that 
it is used today, not only by the Anglican communion but 
also by people of all Protestant faiths who want to worship 
their God in words of ineffable beauty and clarity. 

Only a few weeks after King Henry's death, his widow 
married Sir Thomas Seymour, newly created Baron Seymour 
of Sudeley, the brother of the Lord Protector. She had been 
in love with him before she married Henry, but had given 
him up to become a loyal and helpful wife to the king. 
Catherine of Suffolk was one of the few who knew from the 
start about her old friend's marriage, which was kept a 
carefully-guarded secret for as long as possible. It was not 
possible very long. On August 20th, 1548, a baby girl was 
born to Catherine Parr and Thomas Seymour, and eight 
days later the queen died of puerperal fever. Not long after- 
wards, Lord Seymour was put in the Tower attainted of 
treason, and on March 2Oth, 1549, the day his baby was 
seven months old, he was executed. His dying request was 
that his infant daughter, Mary, should be brought up by the 
Duchess of Suffolk, and the child, with her nurse, was taken 
to Grimsthorpe from Syon House, where she had been in the 
care of her uncle, the Lord Protector Somerset. According to 
John Strype, Somerset had promised that a pension should be 
settled upon the baby, and that plate and furnishings belong- 
ing to her nursery should be sent to Grimsthorpe for her use. 
But neither was forthcoming, and the whole burden of her 


maintenance fell upon the duchess. In spite of her many 
protestations of poverty, the duchess was fairly affluent; in 
lands, particularly, she was well-to-do. But her own respon- 
sibilities, her sons and her large establishment, put a heavy 
drain upon Catherine of Suffolk's resources, and the added 
burden of little Mary Seymour was the last straw. In July, 
1549, she wrote a letter about it to William Cecil, now in 
Somerset's service: 

I have so wearied myself with the letters that I have 
written at this present to my Lord's Grace and to my 
Lady, that there is not so much as one line could be 
spared for Cecil. But by that time I have made you the 
amends, you will be well pleased by another line ; you 
shall have letters when they get none. That is to say, I 
will trouble you when I will not trouble them. So I 
trow you may hold you well repayed. In these my 
letters to my Lady, I do put her in remembrance for the 
performance of the promise touching some annual pen- 
sion for the finding of the late queen's child; for now she 
with a dozen persons lyeth all together at my charge, 
the continuance whereof will not bring me out of debt 
this year. My Lord Marquis Northampton, to whom I 
[page torn] deliver her, hath as weak a back for such a 
burden as I have. And he would receive her but more 
willingly if he might receive her with the appurtenances. 
Thus groweth matters; you must help us beggars and I 
pray you that you may. And then will we cease our 
importunities. But never a word that you are required 
by me. So fare you heartily well, with my commenda- 
tions to your wife. 1 

In August, Catherine wrote a second letter to Cecil. 



Apparently the plate and furnishings for the baby's nursery 
had come to her, but no allowance, so that the expenses of 
her maintenance and the maintenance and wages of her 
governess, her nurse and other servants all fell upon the 
duchess, who found it next to impossible to discharge the 
financial burden and begged Cecil, once more, to try to get 
the allowance or pension. 

There is no record of whether or not any allowance for the 
child was forthcoming, or of what finally became of her. 
Lady Cecilie Goff says that apparently no funds ever came, 
and that she later married and had one daughter. John Strype 
says that funds were provided, but that she died shortly 
afterwards. Whatever happened, the duchess appears to have 
complained of her no further. 

Meanwhile, by the autumn of 1549, all was not well with 
Somerset and his position in the Council of Regency. In the 
summer of that year, a rebellion had taken place in Norfolk, 
led by one Robert Ket, one of the local gentry. It was a 
rebellion chiefly against the enclosure movement, the move- 
ment to fence in arable land and make it into pastures for 
sheep-raising. It was a lucrative venture for the landowners, 
but it displaced the tenant farmers, depriving them of homes 
and work and their very subsistence. Somerset put down the 
rebellion, although actually he was hostile towards the 
enclosing landlords and sympathetic to the position of the 
rebels; and he did try his best to enforce laws against en- 
closures. It is not clear how the Duchess of Suffolk felt about 
the rebellion, or about the enclosure movement. Apparently, 
in a very small way, she profited from the uprising; in 
October of 1550, writing to Cecil to congratulate him upon 
his new appointment as Secretary to the Earl of Warwick, 
she remarked: 



I am content to become your partner ... and I will abide 
all adventures in your ship, be the weather fair or foul; 
and although I cannot help you with costly wares ... 
yet I shall ply you with my woollen stuffs which may 
serve her for ballast. If you marvel how that I am 
become so cunning in ship works, you shall understand 
that I am about the making of one here by me at 
Boston's, or rather the patching of an old one, which 
gentle recompense I had for my wines, wherewith the 
Honour victualled the rebels in Norfolk the last year, so 
that I am now become a merchant vintner. 2 

Hugh Larimer was outspokenly sympathetic with the 
rebels, and said as much in a sermon before Edward VI : 

The covetousness of the gentry appeared as in raising 
their rents, so in oppressing the poorer sort by en- 
closures, thereby taking away their lands, where they had 
served their forefathers, to feed their cattle for the 
subsistence of their families, which was such an oppres- 
sion that it caused them to break out into a rebellion in 
the year I549. 3 

But the cards were stacked against the little folk, the 
yeomen farmers, and they were stacked against Somerset. 
The two strongest men in the Council were Somerset and 
John Dudley, Earl of Warwick. Somerset was the people's 
friend; Warwick was the friend of the rich and powerful 
landlord group. He was a far less admirable man than 
was Somerset, but he had wealth behind him, and the rich 
landowners, and he had the power that derives from wealth 
and backing. In October, 1549, Somerset was forced to resign 
his office, and Warwick became head of the government. 



Somerset was put in the Tower for a time, but then he was 
released to sit again at the Council table. By that time, how- 
ever, he was actively conspiring against Warwick, and, as a 
result of his activities, the government was in danger of 
splitting. The position was an impossible one. Even Somer- 
set's friends realized that it was impossible, and they were 
trying their best to get him to see that his active opposition 
to Warwick could only end in disaster. But they were un- 
successful, and in the end Somerset was to pay for his 
actions with his life. 

Somerset and the duchess were old friends; and Catherine 
was also a friend to Warwick, her husband's old favourite. 
Early in 1550, after Somerset's first imprisonment in the 
Tower, William Cecil, who was trying his best to straighten 
matters out and dispel the enmity between the two men, 
wrote to Catherine asking her to come up to Court and try 
what she could do. Cecil evidently thought that, as a friend 
to both men, and with her ready wit and facile tongue, she 
might be able to help resolve the difficulties. But Catherine 
thought otherwise. She wrote to Cecil on March 25th: 

The matter between the council and my Lord and the 
state of hh cause, seemeth by your letter not to differ 
from that which before I heard. But of my greater fear 
you have quieted me ... Wherefore I trust my journey 
will be less needful, for the great good I could have 
done for my Lord was to have offered my counsel ... 
If I might be anyways persuaded that I might do my 
Lord any good I would gladly put myself in, any 
venture for him. But alas, if I come and am not able to 
do for him that I would ... then shall I not only do him 
no good but rather harm ... I will bethink me how I can 



master that froward and crooked mind of mine before 
I come, and if I can bring that to pass then will I not fail 
with speed to accomplish your desire and mine. 4 

Although the duchess did not go to Westminster to 
intercede on Somerset's behalf, Somerset, if he knew of her 
reluctance to come, was not antagonized by it. Only two 
months later, in May of 1550, he wanted to negotiate a 
marriage contract between his daughter, the Lady Anne 
Seymour, and the young Duke of Suffolk, then a boy of 
fifteen, Catherine's eldest son. Almost any sixteenth-century 
parent would have jumped at the proposal. But Catherine of 
Suffolk was not such a one; she was no more bound by 
custom and convention in her attitude towards marriage 
than in her attitude towards any other part of life which she 
regarded as important. She declined the offer, at least for the 
time being, and then, as she so often did when confronted 
with a problem, she turned to William Cecil: 

... I trust the friendship between my Lord Somerset and 
me hath been tried such, and hath so good assurance 
upon the simple respects of our only good wills, that we 
shall not need to do anything rashly or unorderly to 
make the world to believe better of our friendships and 
for the one of us to think well of the other. No unadvised 
bonds between a boy and girl can give such assurance 
of good will as hath been tried already. And now they, 
marrying by our orders and without their consents, 
as they be yet without judgement to give such consent 
as ought to be given in matrimony, I cannot tell what 
more unkindness one of us might show another, or 
wherein we might work more wickedly than to bring 
our children into so miserable a state not to choose by 



their own liking ... This I promise you I have said for 
my Lord's daughter as well as for my son, and this more 
I say for myself and say it not but truly : I know none 
this day living that I rather wish my son than she, but I 
am not, because I like her best, therefore desirous that 
she should be constrained by her friends to have him 
whom she might peradventure not like so well as I like 
her; neither can I yet assure myself of my son's liking ... 
But to have this matter come best to pass were that we 
parents kept still our friendship, and suffer our children 
to follow our examples and to begin their loves of 
themselves without our forcing ... and so I doubt not 
but if God do not mislike it, my son and his daughter 
shall much better like it to make up the matter them- 
selves, and let them even alone with it, saying there can 
no good agreement happen between them that we shall 
mislike, and if it should not happen well there is neither 
they nor none of us shall blame another. And so my good 
Cecil, being weary, I leave you to the Lord. From 
Kingston, the 9th of May. 5 

This was a very surprising letter from a sixteenth-century 
parent, particularly from a widow with two sons, who might 
be expected to welcome without question the opportunity for 
an important and influential marriage for one of those sons. 
It is a clear indication of how the duchess felt about marriage. 
At a time when arranged marriages were customary she 
would not lend herself to making such an arrangement for 
one of her children, no matter how flattering the offer or 
how desirable the arrangement might seem to be. 

Somerset did not agree with the duchess about waiting to 
see how the young people felt. In a little over a year, Lady 



Anne Seymour was married to the young Lord Lisle, the 
eldest son of the Earl of Warwick, now Duke of Northum- 
berland. And in the following October Somerset was once 
more arrested, by his own daughter's father-in-law, was tried 
for treason, convicted and beheaded. 



DURING all this time the education of Catherine's two 
sons had been progressing in a brilliantly promising 
manner. In the autumn of 1549, the two boys had 
entered St John's College, Cambridge. Young Henry was 
then fourteen, his brother Charles a year or so younger. Quite 
probably William Cecil had something to do with the 
duchess's choice of a college for her boys; St John's was his 
old college. It was the college associated with such men as 
Sir John Cheke, the great Greek lecturer and one of the 
tutors of Edward VI; with Roger Ascham, tutor to the 
Princess Elizabeth; with Walter Haddon, lecturer on Civil 
Law; all of them men of profound learning and liberal 
sympathies. In 1535, when Cecil was a student there, St 
John's was regarded as one of the outstanding colleges in the 
University of Cambridge, and it held the same high place 
in the regard of men of learning when the Brandon brothers 
went up. 

Their tutor was Doctor Thomas Wilson. In 1553 Wilson 
published the Arte of Rhetorique, one of the earliest books on 
literary style in the English language; and still later he became 
one of Queen Elizabeth's principal secretaries. At this time he 
was a brilliant tutor, who immediately recognized the 
qualities of mind and character of his two noble students, 
who stood out so much above the average in scholarship and 



The students lived a rigorous life in the college. Rising 
between four and five in the morning, they spent the hour 
from five to six in chapel, after which, until ten o'clock, they 
either studied with their tutor or attended university lectures. 
At ten o'clock they had a rather dull dinner, consisting usually 
of a piece of beef, soup and oatmeal. After dinner they would 
again devote themselves to their studies until five o'clock, 
when a supper, not unlike the dinner, was served. The 
evenings were given over to discussions, in Latin of course, 
or to studies, until nine o'clock when they would go to bed. 
There was no heat in the buildings where the students lived, 
and often they would have to run up and down for half an 
hour or so, before bedtime, in order to get their feet warm. 

It was not an easy life, but it was the normal life for students 
at the time, so it was accepted with no more objection than 
that which any boy in any age might raise, about the food 
being not as good as that at home; about lack of free time, 
lack of comfort and the like. We hear nothing of sports in 
connection with the Brandon boys, nothing about dramatics, 
or any of what we call today extra-curricular activities. All 
that we know is that they were boys of singularly lovely 
character, and of unusual knowledge and ability in learning; 
boys who worked hard and did extremely well in their 
pursuit of education. And although they lived such a stark 
and rigorous life, their apparel, at least, was gay and rich. In 
an inventory dated 1551, among the clothing listed as 
belonging to Henry, the young Duke of Suffolk, are such 
items as *a black velvet gown furred with sables ... a pair of 
crimson velvet hose ... a nightgown of black damask furred 
with conie...a velvet cap with fourteen diamonds and 
another with fourteen rubies,' and so forth; and Charles 
Brandon had *a suit of crimson satin embroidered with 



silver, given to the duchess by the King, with buttons of 
gold; a nightgown of grogram furred with jennet ...a 
taffeta hat with a brooch.' 1 

When her sons went to St John's College, the duchess took 
a house in Kingston, a little village five or six miles to the 
west of Cambridge, in order to be near them. One of her 
earliest happy acts there was to welcome to Cambridge the 
great German theologian, Martin Bucer. The contacts 
between the English and continental reformers had been close 
all along and Bucer had been in touch, by letter, with Thomas 
Cranmer, who had invited him to come to England and had 
been instrumental in getting him appointed Regius Professor 
of Divinity at Cambridge. Some time earlier, and also due to 
Cranmer's influence, the regius professorship of divinity at 
Oxford had been conferred upon Peter Martyr, one of 
Bucer's close friends and, like him, a great reformer. Bucer 
arrived in Cambridge in November of 1549, and the next 
January he opened a course on St Paul's Epistle to the 
Ephesians. Henry and Charles Brandon studied with Martin 
Bucer, and their mother attended many of his lectures, and 
became a devoted friend to him as well, and to his wife and 
children, who joined him in Cambridge before the winter 
was over. Their friendship, although it turned out to be of 
very short duration, was a source of profound pleasure to 
Catherine of Suffolk, and brought great happiness to Bucer 
himself Catherine was young, intelligent and eager-minded; 
he was thirty years older than she, in failing health but never 
in failing mental and spiritual vigour. He found in her an 
absorbed listener, an understanding questioner and an apt 
student of the reformed religion of which he was such a 
learned and brilliant exponent. All that was in her power the 
duchess did for her friend's comfort. She gave him a cow and 



a calf for himself and his family, among other things, and 
towards the end, when he was sick and dying, she helped to 
nurse him and did everything she could to ease his suffering 
and to help his wife. 

Martin Bucer died on February 27th, 1551, only a little 
over a year from the day he had arrived in Cambridge. He 
was buried in Great St Mary's church in the town, and such 
had been the sweetness of his character, as well as the bril- 
liance of his mind, that the entire town, university officials and 
students and townsfolk too, mourned him and attended his 
funeral some three thousand persons all told. His death 
was a great personal grief to the duchess. She had known him 
for less than two years, but she had loved him for his gentle- 
ness and understanding, and for the integrity of his mind and 

Sad as she was at the loss of Martin Bucer, a much greater 
grief was in store for Catherine in that tragic year of 1551. 
Early in the summer, before the end of the Cambridge term, 
the dread sweating sickness broke out in England and struck 
the university town. The great sixteenth-century French 
surgeon, Ambrose Pare, described the sweating sickness as 
*a catarrhe with difficulty of breathing and a straitness of the 
heart and lungs', which would suddenly strike a city, attacking 
as many as two or three hundred in a day, killing most of 
them, and then pass on as suddenly as it had come. The des- 
cription of it given by the English physician, John Caius, was 
more picturesque in a macabre way. In 1552, Caius wrote A 
Boke or Counceill against the Disease commonly called the 
Sweate, or Sweating Sickness, in which he said that it 

immediately killed some in opening their windows, 
some in playing with children in street doors, some in 



one hour, many in two it destroyed, and at the longest, 
to them that merrily dined it gave a sorrowful supper. 
As it found them so it took them, some in sleep, some in 
wake, some in mirth, some in care, some fasting and 
some full ... if the half in every town escaped it was 
thought great favour. 2 

This was the disease which struck Cambridge in July of 
1551, a disease for which there was no known cure, from 
which there was no hope of recovery. When it invaded the 
university town, Henry and Charles Brandon were promptly 
removed from their college and were taken to Buckden 
the same Buckden which had been the home for a time of 
Catherine of Aragon where they were warmly received 
by a kinswoman of theirs, Lady Margaret Neville, who 
welcomed them affectionately. But the two boys were 
strangely sad, particularly the young Duke of Suffolk. In 
the middle of the evening meal, he looked gloomily at Lady 
Margaret and said, 

'Where shall we sup tomorrow night?' 

Lady Margaret was startled. 'With me, I trust, or at least 
with one equally well known to you/ she answered. 

'No/ said Henry Brandon, 'never shall we sup together 

Almost immediately the boy was stricken with the disease, 
and within the next few hours he died. His brother Charles 
lay ill in another room. Opening his eyes suddenly, he looked 
up at the doctor who was attending him and said that it was 
very sad to be bereaved of a dear one. 

'Why do you say that?' asked the physician. 

'My brother is dead/ answered Charles, 'but no matter, 
for I will go straight after him/ 



Inside an hour, and in spite of all the doctor's efforts to 
relieve him, Charles Brandon, too, was dead. 

The duchess was unwell in her house at Kingston when the 
news reached her that her sons had been moved away from 
Cambridge. She rose instantly from her bed and followed 
them to Buckden, arriving there to find Henry dead and 
Charles dying. The courageous and resourceful young 
woman who had never hesitated to face any difficulty, how- 
ever great, was prostrate with grief. Everything she had 
stood for, everything she had fought for was secondary to 
her devotion to her two boys, her concern over their present 
welfare, her hopes and dreams for their future. Dazed and 
stunned, she knew simply that the very centre of her life, her 
reason for existence, was gone from her, leaving a vacuum 
behind. She did not know, did not even care, what was the 
nature of the terrible disease which had swept over Cam- 
bridge and taken her boys from her. All that her numbed 
mind could grasp was that they were gone. They had been 
taken away from the university as quickly as possible, in the 
desperate hope that the contagion had not reached them and 
that they might be spared. Catherine had been told of their 
departure immediately, and had rushed to follow them, to be 
with them at Buckden, to care for them if need be; she had 
arrived to find nothing. Tragedy stared her in the face and 
she stared back, blindly. Normally the duchess was fond of 
people, but now no one could help her, no one could even 
reach her to try to comfort her. There were decisions to be 
made which only she could make, questions which only she 
could answer, about funeral ceremonies and burial. But when 
her friends, helpfully and lovingly, came to her to ask her 
what she wished to have done, she seemed not even to hear 
them. And so the brothers were buried at Buckden, quietly 



and privately. Later on, when Catherine was once again 
mistress of herself, eulogies were made, and epitaphs in 
keeping with the position and the rare promise of these gifted 
children. But for the time being, Catherine cared for nothing 
and could decide nothing. 

The duchess left Buckden, that house of tragedy ; and she 
left her little house in Kingston, and the University of 
Cambridge, where her hopes had been so high, the future 
had seemed so glowing. She went home to Grimsthorpe, to 
the seclusion of her own house and her own garden, where 
she had brought up her sons and watched them play as little 
boys. The days went by slowly, the hours from dawn to 
evening seemed interminable as she walked alone through 
the silent house that had once, such a short time ago, been 
full of laughter and play. She might have gone somewhere 
else, have plunged herself into a life of activity in an effort to 
forget her grief. But here in Grimsthorpe was where 
Catherine knew she had to find herself, quietly and prayer- 
fully, to discover whether her belief and her faith could and 
would sustain her, to build her life anew upon its shattered 
ruin. And she did just that. Alone in the quiet of her home, 
full of the memories of her adored sons, her courage reasserted 
itself as her belief and trust in God came back to her. By 
September she was reaching out for the comfort and under- 
standing of her close friends. On the yth, she wrote to 
William Cecil: 

I give God thanks, good Master Cecil, for all His 
benefits which it hath pleased him to heap upon me; 
and truly I take this last (and to the first sight most sharp 
and bitter) punishment not for the least of His benefits, 
inasmuch as I have never been so well taught by any 



other before to know His power, His love and mercy, 
mine own weakness and that wretched state that with- 
out Him I should endure here. And to ascertain you that 
I have received great comfort in Him, I would gladly 
do it by talk and sight of you. But as I must confess 
myself no better than flesh, so I am not well able with 
quiet to behold my very friends without some part of 
these vile dregs of Adam to seem sorry for that whereof 
I know I rather ought to rejoice. Yet notwithstanding 
I would not spare my sorrow so much but I would gladly 
endure it were it not for other causes that moveth me so 
to do, which I leave unwritten at this time ... if it please 
you, you may use him that I send you as if I stood by. 
So with many thanks for your lasting friendship, I 
betake you to Him that both can and I trust will govern 
you to His glory and your best contentation. 3 

With the death of the two Brandon boys, the dukedom of 
Suffolk had become extinct in the male line. Their half- 
sister, Frances Brandon, the eldest daughter of their father 
and the French Queen, stood next in line. On October 4th, 
1551, King Edward conferred the dukedom upon Frances's 
husband, Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset, at the same 
ceremony at which the Earl of Warwick was created Duke of 
Northumberland and William Cecil was knighted. 

The properties which had come to Charles Brandon and his 
heirs male, by grant from King Henry VIII, had reverted to 
the Crown. Vaudey Abbey, an old Cistercian monastery 
which had been dissolved in 1533, and Edenham and Scotel- 
thorpe, had all been granted to the duke and Catherine 



jointly, therefore they continued as her property. They lay 
close by Grimsthorpe and had become a part of it. Tattershall 
Castle, in Lincolnshire, went back to the Crown, but Eresby, 
not far from Tattershall, belonged to Catherine, like Grims- 
thorpe, as part of her inheritance from her father. So the 
duchess still owned enough land to keep her very busy and 
to bring her an income. She stayed at Grimsthorpe quietly 
through the autumn of 1551, but by Christmas she apparently 
felt more like mingling with people, and she spent the 
holidays with her stepdaughter, Frances, and her husband and 
three young daughters. The eldest of these daughters, the 
Lady Jane Grey, was then a girl of fourteen, only slightly 
younger than Catherine's own two boys who had, of course, 
been her uncles, being half-brothers to her mother. Jane 
must have been a comfort to Catherine of Suffolk. She was a 
singularly sweet, gentle girl, with great beauty both of body 
and of mind. She was reputed to be one of the most studious 
and learned young women in England: men like John Ayl- 
mer, her tutor, and Roger Ascham were constantly amazed at 
the clear and lucid quality of her mind and by her aptness in 
learning. The duchess, missing her own two sons so sorely, 
found a poignant kind of comfort in the company of this 
lovely and gifted child, so suggestive, in many ways, of her 
young uncles. 

When Henry Grey became Duke of Suffolk, his wife 
became the duchess; Catherine was, of course, the dowager 
duchess. The term dowager, however, was never used in 
connection with her; Catherine was known as the Duchess of 
Suffolk until the day of her death. She went back to Grims- 
thorpe after Christmas, and she was there all through the 
winter and spring. In June of 1552, she wrote to William 
Cecil, sending with the letter a buck from her deer park. 



By the late coming of this buck to you you shall perceive 
that wild things be not ready at commandment. For truly 
I have caused my keeper, yea, and went forth with him 
myself on Saturday at night after I came home (which 
was a marvel for me) but so desirous was I to have had 
one for Mr. Larimer to have sent after him to his niece's 
churching. But there is no remedy but she must be 
churched without it ... But as touching your hunting 
here, I would be sorry you shonld leave it undone ... I 
assure you I have not to my knowledge two bucks 
more in my parks. But that must not discourage you 
from hunting ; for if it please you to take the pains to 
kill them, I am sure I get them not unless I kill them out 
of hand. Wherefore I would desire you to take the pains 
and take your part of them. And also you may have as 
good sport at the red deer, and I pray you take it, for I 
am very glad when any of my friends may have their 
pastime here, and nothing grieves me but when I can 
not make their pastime with them. And therefore at 
your pleasure come, and bring with you whom you 
will, and you shall be welcome and they also for your 
sake. And so, with my hearty commendations . . . from 
Grimsthorpe this present Wednesday at six o'clock in the 
morning and like a sluggard in my bed. 4 

Catherine added a postscript to this letter: 'Master 
Bertie is at London to conclude if he can with the heirs. 
For I would gladly discharge the trust wherein my Lord 
did leave me before I did for any man's pleasure anything 

Obviously the duchess was an early riser. Not many 
women in her position, then or now, would consider them- 


selves "sluggards' for being in bed at six o'clock in the 
morning. But perhaps the most revealing part of this letter is 
the postscript, with its reference to Master Bertie, who, a 
year later, would become Catherine's second husband. The 
postscript seems to indicate that as early as the summer of 
1552, Catherine was thinking of marrying Richard Bertie. 
She was the executor of the estate of the duke, her first 
husband, a duty which she wished to discharge before she 
'did for any man's pleasure anything else'. But it seems 
obvious that she was considering marriage when she wrote 
the letter. She may have been considering it for some 
months; in a letter to Cecil which she had written eight 
months before, in September 1551, she had spoken to him of 
someone she was sending to him, one whom he could 'use as 
if I stood by'. This, too, may have been the same Master 
Bertie, to whom the duchess had even then given, if not her 
promise, her complete trust and confidence. 

Richard Bertie was gentleman usher to the Duchess of 
Suffolk. A gentleman usher was one of good birth and line- 
age, who was attached to a noble household and walked 
ahead of his master or mistress in ceremonial processions or 
other progresses. In one of the sermons he preached before 
Edward VI, in 1549, Hugh Larimer had referred to a duchess 
and her gentleman usher in allegorical terms : 

This faith is a great state, a lady, a duchess, a great 
woman; and she hath ever a great company and train 
about her as a noble estate ought to have. First she hath a 
gentleman usher that goeth before her, and when he is 
not there is not Lady Faith ... Now as the gentleman 
usher goeth before her, so she hath a train that cometh 
behind her ... they be all Faith's company, they are all 



with her ... Lady Faith is never without her gentleman 
usher, nor without her train. 

There were only two duchesses in the kingdom at the time 
that Latimer preached this sermon, Catherine, his friend and 
patroness, and the Duchess of Somerset, who was noted for 
her arrogance and her overbearing manner which had made 
her extremely unpopular. It seems certain that when he 
spoke in those terms of Faith, Hugh Latimer had the Duchess 
of Suffolk in his mind; and her gentleman usher was, of 
course, Richard Bertie. 

Richard Bertie had considerable responsibility in 
Catherine's household. He transacted a good deal of business 
for her, sometimes going up to London to do so. He was a 
man of some background, tracing his lineage back to one 
Leopold de Bertie, whose ancestors were said to have 
landed in England with the Saxons and who had himself 
been Constable of Dover Castle at the time of King Ethelred 
undoubtedly a position of trust in a time when there was 
constant fear of invasion of England. Thomas Bertie, father 
of Richard, was governor of Hurst Castle on the south coast 
of England near the Isle of Wight, guarding the entrance to 
the Solent. Henry VIII built Hurst Castle early in his reign, 
and Thomas Bertie may have been the first governor of that 
stronghold. And so, although far below the duchess in rank, 
Richard Bertie does not appear to have been, as Lady Cecilie 
Goff maintains, meanly born. He was born in Southampton 
in the year 1517, was entered at Corpus Christi College, 
Oxford, in 1534 and proceeded to his B.A. in 1537. He was 
an accomplished gentleman, who spoke French, Italian and 
Latin fluently, and was reputed to be bold and clever in 
conversation and quick at repartee. Catherine would have 



enjoyed those qualities and found him congenial. As a 
younger man he had spent a short time in the household of 
the Lord Chancellor Wriothesley. He was a man of a com- 
manding presence; Holbein's portrait shows a high forehead, 
arched brows above large and intelligent eyes, an aquiline 
nose and a long beard which made him look considerably 
older than in fact he was. Unlike her first husband who had 
been so much her senior, Bertie was only a little older than 
the duchess. And he was as steadfast in the Protestant faith as 
Catherine was herself He had been a member of Catherine's 
household for some time, and they had worked together and 
talked together and had come to know one another well. 
And in Catherine's house Richard Bertie had had the 
opportunity of knowing her friend and spiritual counsellor, 
Hugh Latimer. A mutual respect and friendship had grown i 
up between the two men, which was a great source of happi- 
ness to Catherine of Suffolk. 

During the year 1552, Hugh Latimer spent a great deal of 
time at Grimsthorpe as the guest of the duchess. It was while 
he was staying there at that time that he preached in 
Catherine's private chapel, to her household, the seven 
sermons on the Lord's Prayer, in the first of which he said: 

I intend ... at the request of my most gracious lady, 
to expound unto you, her household servants and others 
that be willing to hear, the right understanding and 
meaning of this most perfect prayer which our Savior 
Himself taught us. 

Latimer did as much as any Englishman to establish the 
Lord's Prayer as an important part of Protestant devotion and 
worship. He had stressed its importance in his preaching as early 
as 1533, and throughout his sermons can be found references 



to it. The sermons he preached at Grimsthorpe in 1552 
analysed and explained this 'whole and perfect' prayer, 
phrase by phrase. 

! Early in the year 1553, Catherine of Suffolk and Richard 
Bertie were married. Hugh Larimer was almost certainly the 
minister who married them. He was again visiting at Grims- 
thorpe from the day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, 1552, 
at least until after Twelfth Day - the Epiphany - 1553 ; he 
preached there on December 26th and 2yth, and again on 
Twelfth Day; and it may very well be that his hostess was 
married during that time. The actual date of her marriage is 
not recorded, but it was very early in the year 1553. Latimer 
would have been happy officiating at the marriage of the 
duchess to Richard Bertie. He had the same abhorrence as 
Catherine had to marriages made solely for position and 
advancement; he had been outspoken in his opposition to 
such matches. This marriage of his friend and benefactor was 
the kind of marriage in which he believed. With Catherine's 
position, wealth and beauty, she could have made what 
would have been regarded as an important match. But the 
woman who had declined to make a loveless match for her 
son would not conceivably have married without love 
herself. And so she married her gentleman usher, a man 
whose quality she knew, a man with whom she had fallen in 
love and who had shown himself to be, as he was for the rest 
of their life together, devoted above everything else to her 
welfare and her happiness. 

She married this man who would love, honour and keep 
her', who was as convinced as she herself was of the Protes- 
tant faith, and they started their Hfe together, serene and 
happy, at Grimsthorpe, busy with the many responsibilities 
of Catherine's estates and with the propagation and encour- 



agement of the reformed religion among the people of the 
county. It was a good and useful life, and the duchess and 
her new husband were happy in it. But the storm clouds were 
gathering. In January 1553, the young king Edward VI had 
caught a bad cold which left the somewhat frail boy with a 
hard, racking cough; it was the first sign of a rapid con- 
sumption. The ambitious and unscrupulous Duke of 
Northumberland, the actual head of the government, 
realized that Edward's days were numbered. He realized also 
that upon Edward's death his half-sister, Mary the Catholic, 
daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, 
would inherit the throne of England, and that would be fatal 
to him. It would mean the end of his power, his prestige, his 
whole position. Mary would come to the throne, that is, 
unless he could devise some way of stopping her. 

Northumberland moved quickly and relentlessly. His 
movements were helped by the easy acquiescence of Henry 
Grey, Duke of Suffolk. Henry Grey was a weak man and an 
ambitious one. After the fall of Somerset, he had hitched his 
wagon to Northumberland's star, and he was a ready ally in 
that crafty duke's scheming. The Duke of Suffolk had moved 
his family to Sheen, very near to Syon House, the home of 
Northumberland. And Suffolk's eldest daughter was lovely, 
young, gifted and of blood royal the Lady Jane Grey, a 
friend and sometime companion to the young king, her 
cousin. At one time a marriage between King Edward and 
the Lady Jane had been talked about, but it had come to 
nothing. Northumberland saw in this young woman, barely 
sixteen years old, the perfect tool for achieving his purposes. 
Jane was intelligent and beautiful, and, most important, she 
was Protestant. Northumberland arranged a marriage be- 
tween her and his son, Guildford Dudley. Jane was unhappy 



about the marriage, and she resisted it as long as she could, 
but her father, Northumberland's spineless tool, insisted, and 
broke down her resistance. On May 2ist, 1553, Lady Jane 
Grey and Guildford Dudley were married in London. 
Northumberland then persuaded the young, sickly King 
Edward to draw up a 'devise of the succession', in which he 
left the crown of England to the Lady Jane and her heirs 

On July 6th, 1553, at the age of sixteen, King Edward VI 
died, and four days later Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed 
Queen of England in London. The country was not en- 
thusiastic for her. Moreover, in all his complicated schem- 
ings, Northumberland had failed to do the one thing 
essential to the success of his plan. He had failed to secure the 
person of Mary Tudor. And Mary Tudor had no intention of 
stepping aside. When she had become aware of what was 
happening in London, she had taken refuge in the Duke of 
Norfolk's castle at Framlingham in Suffolk. She wrote to the 
Council on July 9th, proclaiming herself her brother 
Edward's lawful successor. The Council, under Northumber- 
land's leadership, replied that Lady Jane was the Queen of 
England. But Mary's supporters were in arms in the eastern 
counties, and were moving towards London. Mary was 
going to fight to defend her right to the succession. Northum- 
berland went out to meet her at the head of an army, but he 
had no sooner left the city than the members of the Council 
began to desert, fearing for their lives. Before Northumber- 
land had even reached the county of Suffolk, Lady Jane's 
own father had proclaimed Mary queen in London. 
Northumberland yielded himself a prisoner two days later, 
and when Mary entered London she entered as queen with 
her country solid behind her. 



As for Lady Jane, a lovely young woman, zealous for her 
faith, already distinguished for her learning and quite 
out of place in the intrigues of her unscrupulous 
father-in-law, she would gladly have taken leave 
of royalty and gone back to her books and her de- 
votions. But she could not choose. The Tower, 
which for a brief nine days had been her royal 
palace, presently became her prison. She was not to 
leave it finally until she took her last sad journey to 
the scaffold. 5 

Catherine of Suffolk had had no part in these events. 
With her husband she had been living quietly in Lincoln- 
shire, busy with her estates, busy with the forwarding of the 
reformed religion and busy giving Richard Bertie his first 
child, a daughter, Susan. She was far from the events in 
London, but not so far that news of them could not reach 
her. She had always been on friendly, even affectionate terms 
with her stepdaughter Frances, Lady Jane's mother. And the 
Lady Jane herself was particularly dear to the duchess. 
Catherine was unhappy and apprehensive, concerned over 
what would happen to the lovely girl who was the innocent 
pawn in the intrigues of her father-in-law and her own 
father, apprehensive about the probable effect upon England 
of Mary's accession to power. The Duchess of Suffolk knew 
the Princess Mary Tudor. They had never been close 
friends, but they had been friendly acquaintances. The duchess 
had no doubt at all about Mary's attitude towards religion, or 
that she would do everything in her power to impose Roman 
Catholicism upon England when she came to the throne. 
Catherine of Suffolk would never have lent herself to a plot 
which could not but result in victimizing the innocent Jane 



Grey. But she could only view the prospect of Mary as queen 
with very real dread. 

Mary entered London as queen on August 3rd, 1553, and 
practically her first act was to release from the Tower the 
prisoners detained there by her father and her brother, in- 
cluding of course the Duke of Norfolk (a strong Catholic 
who had been imprisoned for treason by Henry VIII), and 
Stephen Gardiner, one-time Bishop of Winchester. Gardiner 
had been deprived and put in prison early in Edward's 
reign ; Mary restored him to his see and made him her Lord 
Chancellor. He was, in fact, though not in name, Prime 
Minister. His star was now in the ascendancy, and before 
long he would be relentless in the use of his power against 
the hated heretics who had caused his downfall. One of the 
early targets of his persecution would be the fearless, forth- 
right young woman whose religious position was so repug- 
nant to him, who had exercised her wit at his expense often 
enough to earn his hatred and his undying wish for vengeance 
Catherine Bertie, Duchess of Suffolk. 




IMMEDIATELY upon Mary's accession, the restoration of 
Roman Catholicism in England began. The three most out- 
spoken of the Protestant clerics, Thomas Cranmer, 
Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Larimer, were promptly sent to 
the Tower; and the questionings began. Catherine of 
Suffolk was horrified; although in her inmost heart she had 
foreseen what would undoubtedly happen, she was pro- 
foundly shaken. And she was certain that this was only a 
foretaste of more that was to come, more persecution of 
those whom Mary and Gardiner regarded as heretics, more 
questionings, more imprisonments. Her own turn would 
come, she could have no doubt of that. She had been far too 
outspoken in her antipathy to Romanism, too energetic in 
her propagation and support of the Protestant cause for her 
to be able to escape. But she made up her mind that as long 
as possible she would do all she could for those who were 
already suffering. She sent alms to the men in the Tower: a 
letter from Ridley to Augustine Bernher, Larimer's Swiss 
servant, reads in part: 

I have received my Lady Grace's alms, six royals, six 
shillings and eightpence. I have written a letter to her 
Grace, but have made no mention thereof, wherefore I 
desire you to render her Grace hearty thanks. Blessed be 
God; as for myself, I want nothing, but my Lady 



Grace's alms come happily to relieve my poor brother's 
[Larimer's] necessity, whom you know they have cast 
and keep in prison ... 1 

On the cover of the letter is written : "This alms was sent 
him by the Lady Catherine, duchess of Suffolk.' 

Ridley was taking every precaution to protect the duchess. 
He did not even mention her kindness in a letter to her, 
doubtless fearing lest it be intercepted. But Catherine was 
not trying to protect herself. Her friends, the friends of what 
she believed in so completely, were in trouble, and she 
would do all she could to help them, no matter what the cost 
to herself 

In Lent of 1554, Gardiner made his move against the 
duchess. He gave orders to the Sheriff of Lincoln to bring 
Richard Bertie before him in London. The sheriff, knowing 
Bertie to be a man of his word, contented himself with taking 
his bond, with two sureties of a thousand pounds, to appear 
before the bishop on Good Friday. 2 

In the morning of Good Friday, Richard Bertie presented 
himself at Gardiner's palace, to find the bishop in a white 
rage at him for not having obeyed his summons. Bertie dis- 
claimed any knowledge of a summons, saying that the sheriff 
had told him only that the bishop wished to see him and had 
taken his bond to appear on this day. The bishop was not 
mollified, but he said, testily, 

1 have appointed myself this day for devotion, and I will 
not trouble myself with you. But I enjoin you in a thousand 
pounds ... to be here again tomorrow at seven of the clock.' 

Richard Bertie was prompt the following morning, and 
was admitted to Gardiner's presence immediately. The bishop 
led up to his real reason for summoning Bertie by informing 



him that it was 'the Queen's pleasure that you shall make 
present payment of four thousand pounds due to her father 
by duke Charles, late husband to the duchess your wife, 
whose executor she was*. 

'May it please your Lordship, 5 Bertie answered, 'that debt 
is estalled [arranged to be paid in instalments] and is according 
to that estallment truly answered/ 

'Tush, the Queen will not be bound to estaUments in the 
time of Ket's government,' Gardiner spoke haughtily, Torso 
I esteem the late government/ 

'The estallment was appointed by King Henry the Eighth/ 
answered Catherine's husband. 'Besides, the same was by 
special commissioners confirmed in King Edward's time, and 
the Lord Treasurer being an executor also to the duke Charles, 
solely and wholly took upon him before the said com- 
missioners to discharge the same/ 

'If it be true that you say, I will show you favour/ the 
bishop answered him. 'But of another thing, Master Bertie, I 
will admonish you as meaning you well. I hear evil of your 
religion, yet I hardly can think evil of you, whose mother 
I knew to be as godly a Catholic as any within the land, your- 
self brought up with a master whose education, if I should 
disallow, I might be charged as author of his error. [Gardiner 
here undoubtedly referred to Wriothesley.] Besides, partly I 
know you myself, and understand enough of my friends to 
make me your friend/ The bishop spoke smoothly. 'Where- 
fore/ he went on, 'I will not doubt of you; but I pray you if 
I may ask the question of my lady your wife, is she now as 
ready to set up the mass as she was lately to pull it down, 
when she caused a dog in a rochet to be carried and called by 
my name? Or doth she think her lambs now safe enough 
which said to me when I veiled [doffed] my bonnet to her 



out of my chamber window in the Tower, that it was merry 
with the lambs now the wolf was shut up ? Another time, my 
Lord her husband having invited me and divers ladies to 
dinner, desired every lady to choose him whom she loved 
best, and so place themselves. My Lady, your wife, taking me 
by the hand for that my Lord would not have her to take 
himself, said that for as much as she could not sit down with 
my Lord whom she loved best, she had chosen me, whom she 
loved worst/ 

'Of the device of the dog/ answered Bertie quietly, 'she 
was neither the author nor the allower. The words though in 
that season they sounded bitter to your Lordship, yet if it 
should please you without offence to know the cause, I am 
sure the one will purge the other. As touching setting up of 
mass, which she learned not only by strong persuasions of 
divers excellent learned men, but by universal consent and 
order whole six years past, inwardly to abhor, if she should 
outwardly allow she should both to Christ show herself a 
false Christian and unto her prince a masking subject. You 
know, my Lord, one by judgement reformed is more worth 
than a thousand transformed temporizers. To force a con- 
fession of religion by mouth contrary to that in the heart 
worketh damnation where salvation is pretended/ 

'Yea, marry, that deliberation would do well if she were 
required to come from an old religion to a new/ the bishop 
spoke with heat, 'but now she is to return from a new to an 
ancient religion, wherein when she made me her gossip she 
was as earnest as any/ 

'For that, my Lord/ answered Bertie, 'not long since she 
answered a friend of hers, using your Lordship's speech, that 
religion went not by age but by truth, and therefore she was 
to be turned by persuasion and not by commandment/ 



4 I pray you, think you it possible to persuade her?' 

'Yea, verily, with the truth, for she is reasonable enough/ 
answered Catherine's husband. 

4 It will be a marvellous grief to the prince of Spain,' said 
Gardiner sadly, 'and to all the nobility that shall come with 
him, when they shall find but two noble personages within 
this land of the Spanish race, the Queen and my Lady your 
wife, and one of them gone from the faith.' 

1 trust they shall find no fruits of infidelity in her,' 
answered Bertie. 

The bishop responded by urging Richard Bertie to strive 
earnestly for the reform of his wife's religious opinions, and 
with protestations of friendship towards him, he dismissed 
Bertie from his presence. 

But Richard Bertie was not easy in his mind as he left the 
bishop's palace. What, he wondered, lay behind that suave 
exterior? What plans were maturing behind those cold, 
inscrutable eyes? Gardiner's expressions of friendly intent did 
not delude Catherine's husband into any false sense of security . 
He went home to his wife thoughtfully, far from comfortable 
about the interview just over. Nor were his forebodings 
lessened during the next few days, as his friends assured him 
that far from entertaining the friendship he had professed, 
Gardiner would never forgive Catherine. The bishop was an 
uncompromising Catholic; in his eyes Catherine was a 
heretic, to be dealt with as such unless she could be made 
publicly to recant. He was, moreover, a proud and haughty 
man, and Catherine had made fun of him and treated him 
without respect. Probably nothing could ever erase from his 
mind the memory of her taunts, or mitigate his personal 
desire for vengeance. 

Richard Bertie realized all this, and he was afraid for his 



beautiful and fearless wife. He knew, too well, the punish- 
ments for heresy, the imprisonment, the endless questionings 
and inquisitions, the cruelties. Hugh Latimer had been in the 
Tower for nearly two years now, as had Ridley and Cranmer 
and the others. The wheels of the machine were beginning to 
turn. Bertie knew very well that the chances of Latimer and 
their other friends being allowed to live were slim. What 
would happen to his Catherine, with her steadfast faith, her 
readiness to defend that faith and her quick and often im- 
prudent wit? 

Bertie knew that he must act without delay. He sensed that 
Gardiner had not quite made up his mind what he was going 
to do with Catherine; he might, if he acted quickly, forestall 
him. And if the bishop's cupidity was as great as Richard 
Bertie guessed it was, he might be induced to help Bertie save 
his wife, without realizing that he was doing so. 

And so Catherine's husband sought out Gardiner once 
more. There were, he told the bishop, large sums of money 
owing to the duchess's late husband, the Duke of Suffolk, 
from overseas, and especially from the Emperor Charles V. 
As the duke's executor, the duchess had authorized him, her 
husband, to act for her in recovering these moneys. He would 
have to go overseas to get this fortune, Bertie told the 
bishop; all other efforts had failed. But now, when a marriage 
was in contemplation between Queen Mary and the son of 
the emperor, the time would seem ripe to persuade the 
emperor to discharge his obligation to one of the English 
nobility. And so he, Bertie, was asking the bishop for his help 
in procuring a passport to travel overseas as much as might be 
necessary to recover the funds. 

The prospect of a considerable sum of money coming into 
England did not fail to interest Gardiner. The fact that it 



would be coming to one who would probably, sooner or 
later, be attainted for heresy and whose possessions would 
therefore be forfeit, may also have crossed his mind, ail of 
which Bertie had probably counted upon. However, the 
bishop did not show his feelings by so much as the flicker of 
an eyelash. 

'I like your device well/ he told Bertie, 'but I think it 
better that you tarry the prince's coming and I will procure 
you his letters, also to his father/ 

But Bertie knew he dared not tarry. 

'Nay,' he spoke respectfully, 'under your Lordship's 
correction and pardon of so liberal a speech, I suppose the 
time will be less convenient; for when the marriage is con- 
summate, the Emperor hath his desire, but till then he will 
refuse nothing to win credit with us.' 

'By Saint Mary, you guess shrewdly/ exclaimed the 
bishop. 'Well, proceed in your suit and it shall not lack my 
helping hand.' 

So Richard Bertie proceeded in his suit; and by the end of 
the spring, with the bishop's backing, he had obtained from 
Queen Mary licence to cross and recross the seas as might be 
necessary to conclude his business. And in June he sailed from 
Dover on his first trip, leaving the duchess with their baby 
daughter behind him in London. 

Without doubt it was hard for Bertie to leave his wife 
behind him; without doubt it was hard for her to be left 
behind. But Catherine's husband had to prepare the way, and 
find out where it would be safe for them to go, before he 
ventured to take his little family, his wife and baby Susan, 
into a strange land. And just at this time he felt pretty certain 
that while the bishop was undoubtedly watching Catherine's 
movements constantly, he would not make his move against 



her until she had the money which Bertie was ostensibly 
travelling to recover for her. Gardiner wanted money. 
Catherine with the Duke of Suffolk's fortune to confiscate 
would be a much more desirable prize for the bishop to seize 
than Catherine without it. He would be vigilant in his 
watch, but he would undoubtedly wait to see the results of 
Bertie's mission before taking definite action against her. 
Richard Bertie gambled on that being the case. He had to 
take some risk, and as it turned out, he was right in the risk 
he took. 

Bertie crossed the seas in June, and Catherine and little 
Susan stayed in London, with their servants, at the Barbican. 
It was a long and trying wait for the duchess. There was 
practically no one whom she could be sure she could trust. 
Gardiner's spies were all through the city ; for all she knew, 
one of her household servants might be one of the bishop's 
men. Any false step or ill-considered remark of hers could 
lead to instant disaster. She knew this, and she curbed both her 
tongue and her activities while she waited for news from her 
husband. They were long, hard days for Catherine of 
Suffolk; they seemed interminable. Summer gave way to 
autumn and autumn to winter. The days grew shorter and 
colder; when she got up in the mornings it was still as dark 
as night, and by mid-afternoon the daylight was going again. 
But though the daylight was short, Catherine's waking hours 
seemed never-ending. Smithfield, where heretics were 
burned, was not very far from the Barbican, and when there 
was an execution, the heavy air was leaden with smoke, a 
grim reminder to Catherine of the fate that might He in wait 
for her. She spent most of her time with her baby, caring for 
her and playing with her. At thirty-four years of age, 
Catherine of Suffolk, who had never in all her life considered 



the consequences of anything she might do or say, was 
undergoing the most rigid self-discipline. Her very life 
depended upon how she withstood this test hers, her 
husband's and her baby's. So she stayed in or near her house 
with her child, quietly and, to all appearances, calmly and 
happily, and she waited. 

Finally December was almost spent. How the news that 
the end of her waiting was at hand came to the duchess, or 
by what means, is not recorded. Foxe says that when Richard 
Bertie left his wife in June, the date of her own departure was 
agreed upon between them. But this seems slightly improb- 
able. Bertie could not have known in advance what he could 
find, or how long it would take him. And he would wish his 
wife not to delay her departure from England one minute 
longer than necessary, certainly not to wait for a date arbitrar- 
ily set in advance. Possibly Bertie sent word to the duchess by 
one Robert Cranwell, whom Foxe describes as 'an old 
gentleman' especially provided by Bertie for the purpose of 
helping his wife's escape, and the only single person who was 
aware of her intended flight. 

On the last day of the old year, Catherine made her simple 
preparations for her journey. Quietly, so as not to arouse the 
suspicions of her household, she made bundles of the bare 
necessities of life, a change of clothing and some blankets, 
and warm garments for her child. Her task accomplished, she 
went to bed, but not to sleep. She was joyful at the prospect 
of seeing her husband again, but foil of apprehension as she 
thought of the difficulties and dangers that lay ahead of her. 
She had to tell a few of her servants that they must be ready 
betimes in the morning. The Duchess of Suffolk had never 
moved without a retinue; half a dozen servitors seemed a 
very small company for such a trip as she contemplated. 



Foxe describes those she took with her as 'the meanest of her 
servants, for she doubted the best would not adventure that 
fortune with her. They were in number four men, one a 
Greek born, which was a rider of horses, another a joiner, 
the third a brewer, the fourth a fool, one of the kitchen, one 
gentlewoman and a laundress.' 

It was between four and five o'clock on New Year's 
morning, 1555, when the duchess, with her baby daughter in 
her arms and accompanied by her little band, stepped out of 
the door of the Barbican and into the dark cold of the fore- 
court, silent at that early hour. They trod quietly, but not 
quietly enough. As they were going through the outer gate 
that led to the street, a herald named Atkinson, the keeper of 
her house and, possibly, one of Gardiner's men, heard a sound 
and came with a torch in his hand to see what it was about. 
As he paused in the doorway of the house itself, the duchess, 
her tiny group with her, slipped through the gate and into 
the blackness of the London street. In their haste they dropped 
the 'male' which contained most of the parcels of their 
necessaries, but they dared not stop even long enough to pick 
it up. Once in the street, the duchess whispered to the others 
to meet her at Lion Key, between London Bridge and 
Billingsgate, and quickly and silently the little company 
scattered, only the two women staying with their mistress 
and her child. The herald had hesitated, to look and see what 
the parcels were, and this gave Catherine the moment she 
needed to slip into the shelter of the gate of Charterhouse, 
near by. So when the herald came through the gateway of 
the Barbican, all that met his eyes, straining to see through the 
smoky darkness, all that the light of his torch showed as he 
turned it one way and the other, was the black emptiness of 
the London street on a chill, foggy morning. Unconvinced 



but unable to do anything, he turned back and fell to 
ransacking the parcels to see if they might give him any clue 
as to what had happened. 

Catherine lost no time. With her sleeping child in her arms 
and the two women beside her, hurrying to keep up with her, 
she sped through the cold darkness by Finsbury Fields and 
through the silent streets leading towards Moorgate, where 
suddenly, more by accident than any design, they came upon 
the others of their company, trying to find their way through 
the black fog. Together they all went on towards the river, 
until at last Lion Key lay before them, and the barge that 
would take them down the Thames. The mist lay heavy on 
the river, thick and impenetrable, so that the bargeman was 
very reluctant to push off; but finally the persuasiveness of 
the duchess prevailed, the man gave a shove with his pole and 
the trip had finally begun. 

The trip had begun, but Catherine's danger and troubles 
had not ended. As soon as day had fairly broken, the Council 
had been informed of the duchess's flight. Certain of the 
members promptly went to her house to inventory her goods, 
and means were immediately devised and set in motion to 
catch her and prevent her escape. 

The barge kept on down the river through the heavy fog. 
It went slowly, for visibility was extremely limited. Some- 
where along the way, the men with the duchess had got 
separated from her party, and were never heard of again. 
But the loyal Master Cranwell was at Leigh, well down the 
river below Tilbury, waiting for her arrival. In Leigh, Cran- 
well had discovered that her flight was already known, and 
that agents of the bishop were waiting, on the chance that 
she might come there. Casting about for some place of 
safety for Catherine and some way to get her to it, Cranwell 



had come upon an old friend, a merchant by the name of 
Gosling, and had begged him to help. This Gosling was glad 
to do. He had a married daughter, unknown in the town of 
Leigh, and when Catherine stepped off the barge, dressed as 
she was in clothes suitable for a merchant's wife, she was 
greeted as Mistress White the daughter's name and 
was hustled to Gosling's house for a reunion with her 'father'. 

This interlude gave Catherine a chance to catch her 
breath, and to get some much-needed rest before embarking 
upon the next, arduous leg of her journey. She rested as well 
as she could through that day and the next, and busied herself 
with fixing up some clothing for her baby, for all the child's 
things were in the parcels that had fallen from their hands and 
been left behind them. It was not easy for Catherine to relax; 
she was constantly on the alert for agents of Gardiner, for she 
knew very well that the bishop would be unrelenting in his 
pursuit of her. Her mind was far from being at ease, but 
before it was time for her to set sail from Leigh, her spirits 
were marvellously revived. Some time before the sailing 
hour, Richard Bertie, who had got back to England but had, 
for her protection as well as his own, stayed in hiding from 
Gardiner's spies, managed to join his wife and baby. 3 What- 
ever now lay before her, Catherine had the broad shoulders 
of her husband to support and protect her. Her relief, as well 
as her joy at seeing him, was enormous. 

They set sail as soon as wind and tide were favourable, and 
soon the coast-line of England dwindled and vanished behind 
them as their ship made its way across the channel. But winds 
can change, and the coast-line of Zeeland had come within 
their sight when suddenly they realized that instead of grow- 
ing more distinct, it was fading and receding. To their 
dismay, they recognized the fact that they were being blown 



back, back towards England. And then the wind veered 
again, and once more they were heading in the right direc- 
tion. Twice this happened, and the second time they were 
driven back almost to the point from whence they had 
started. The little ship had provisions for only a short voyage, 
and so the captain was obliged to send one of his men ashore 
for more food and water. This simple seaman was promptly 
seized upon and questioned, but his guileless answers, to the 
effect that the only person on board was a mean merchant's 
wife, for some reason satisfied his questioners, and for the 
third time the little craft set sail and moved in the direction 
of the Low Countries. 

This time the ship made it. This time the coast-line they 
longed to reach did not come out of the mist only to recede 
and disappear; it appeared, a thin line, flat and uncluttered, 
on the grey horizon, getting ever sharper and clearer, until 
buildings began to be clearly visible, and finally people 
moving about. Then the sails began to flutter down, the 
little ship slid into the harbour; and Catherine of Suffolk, her 
baby in her arms and her husband at her side, stepped ashore 
on to the soil of Brabant. 




THE winds of late January blew sharp and cold over the 
frozen Low Countries as the duchess and her husband 
set foot for the first time on this foreign land. In the 
flat countryside, there was nothing to break the sweep of 
bitter air blowing off the North Sea, and the wind cut the 
travellers, freezing faces and hands and whipping the 
women's skirts about their legs as they walked across the icy 
ground. The country seemed stark and uninviting, but the 
gales which buffeted them no longer had the power to blow 
them back to England and into the waiting hands of 
Gardiner's men. The steel-grey sea now lay between them 
and the bishop, and the land on which they stood, however 
cold and bleak, was a land of promise to the Berries, of 
safety and security. Whatever might lie ahead of them, dis- 
comforts or even perils, they now gave thanks that their 
difficult sea voyage lay behind them. 

Once ashore, the duchess and her women immediately 
changed their clothing to the costume of Netherland women, 
with 'hikes' long, hooded cloaks which enveloped them 
from head to foot giving them some protection from the 
biting cold. Richard Bertie and his family did not linger long 
near the sea coast. Safe as they felt themselves, Bertie knew 
that it was still too near to England, too accessible to their 
enemies. Their ultimate objective was the Hansa town of 
Wesel, perhaps a hundred miles inland in the duchy of 



Cleves (in what is Germany today). A number of Walloons 
had fled to Wesel to escape religious persecution, and there 
was a Protestant congregation there. The pastor of the con- 
gregation, one Francis Perusell, sometime known as 
Francis de Rivers, had once been the minister of the French 
refugee church in London, where he had known the duchess 
and had received many kindnesses at her hands. 

Richard Bertie had written to Master Perusell, telling him 
of their flight from England and asking him to find a house 
for them in Wesel, and protection, while keeping their real 
identity a secret from all except the chief magistrate of the 
town. The Berties, on leaving the sea coast, made their way 
inland over the flat country to the little town of Santon, 1 
on the edge of the duchy of Cleves, perhaps five miles short 
of Wesel. There they found lodgings and settled down quietly 
to await Master PeruselTs answer to Richard Bertie's letter. 
They were safe in Santon, they thought; certainly they were 
quite secure as compared to their state in England, and they 
were, they believed, safer than they would have been nearer 
to the coast and the lanes of travel between England and the 
Low Countries. They lived in disguise, taking every precau- 
tion possible against discovery, and they lived very simply, as 
people of no consequence, each day thanking God for their 
safety but each day looking for the word from Master 
Perusell that would take them to the still greater security of 
Wesel. From Santon, which stands on a slight rise, only 
about twenty feet but at that practically the highest land in 
that part of the country, they could see, on a clear day, the 
steeple of the church of St Willebrod in Wesel, where they 
hoped ultimately to be. 

Santon was a charming little town, quite near the Rhine, 
which flowed northward only about a mile to the east. The 



houses stood around the square, and dominating all was the 
great mass, not very long completed, of the collegiate church 
of St Victor, a magnificent Gothic structure, dwarfing all the 
other buildings in the town. Its great towers reached upwards, 
and daily its bells, ringing to call the people to mass or to 
special services, reminded everyone in the town of the power 
of Rome. But the people were quiet, friendly folk, who 
smiled shyly when they saw Catherine or her husband in the 
streets (not a frequent occurrence, as the Berties kept very 
much to themselves, going out for an occasional walk with 
their little girl or doing the necessary errands for a simplS 
existence but otherwise staying close to home). It was an 
uneventful life, but after the constant fears and dangers of the 
past year and the long separation from one another, Catherine 
and Richard Bertie were contented and asked for nothing 
more than to be able to stay where they were, quiet and 
unmolested, until such time as they should hear from Master 
Perusell that they could have a safe home in Wesel. 

But their security was short-lived. Before the month of 
February was past, before the looked-for message had come 
from Master Perusell, their peace was shattered. Richard 
Bertie, out in the town on some errand, was approached by a 
man of Santon with news that put an abrupt end to the com- 
fortable feelings he and Catherine had begun to enjoy. There 
were, the man told Bertie, those who did not share the belief 
that he and his wife were the inconsequential little folk they 
pretended to be. It was being whispered about that they were 
quite different, that they were in fact persons of importance; 
and the rumours had reached the ears of Antoine de Perrault, 
| Bishop of Arras and dean of the minster at Santon. The 
I bishop, the townsman warned, was already making his plans 
Ito descend upon Bertie and the duchess suddenly, without 



warning, to examine them as to their status and their religion. 
Richard Bertie listened quietly to what his informant had 
to say, not daring to show his consternation by so much as a 
disturbed look or an exclamation. The man might be the 
friendly human being he appeared to be; he might, on the 
other hand, be an agent sent to sound Bertie's reaction to his 
news. Catherine's husband was well aware of the craftiness 
of their enemies, and he knew that he must never fail to take 
care lest an unadvised gesture might betray his wife and 
himself into their hands. He bade the man a courteous good 
morning and went on his way. Once out of sight, however, 
he made all possible haste back to his home and the duchess. 
There was no time to be lost, he realized that; they must 
leave Santon without delay. He realized also that they dared 
not do anything which might look to a chance observer as 
though they were fleeing. They could not leave their house 
carrying baggage, as if for a journey; they must go un- 
encumbered, taking with them only such bare essentials as 
could be carried without attracting notice. And where 
should they go, and to what welcome, if any? Bertie's 
concern was great, the greater because of his newly acquired 
knowledge that his wife was with child. She was now thirty- 
six years old, an advanced age to be carrying a baby in the 
point of view of those days. Surely it was a monstrous idea 
for her to set forth into the unknown. But they had no 
choice; they must go, quickly and quietly, and they must go 
on foot. And so, that afternoon, as though they meant simply 
to take a walk in the fresh air, Richard Bertie and his wife, 
with baby Susan, walked out of the door of their house and 
down the street of Santon, followed, at a discreet distance, by 
their two servants. They walked in a leisurely manner so 
long as they were within the town, as if they were enjoying 



the brisk air of the winter afternoon. Once out of the town 
their pace quickened. They walked eastward, in the direction 
of Wesel, always towards the towers of the church of St 
Willebrod. No word had yet come to them from Master 
Peruselt, but they had to take the chance of finding him and 
of finding a welcome in Wesel. They had nowhere else to go. 

The air was damp and raw, threatening rain or snow, as 
they trudged into the country, but they kept steadily on. 
They had gone scarcely more than a mile when it began to 
rain, in a steady, cold downpour that drenched their gar- 
ments through, chilling them to their very bones. To make 
matters worse, the rain which felt so cold as it struck them, 
thawed the frost-hardened ground, turning the icy surface to 
slush that sucked at their every footstep, making walking all 
but impossible. Darkness was falling fast, and the rain came 
down steadily, with no sign of stopping. Bertie sent their 
two servants to houses as they passed by, to try to hire some 
kind of wagon for his wife and baby. But none was to be 
had, and they plodded on, Bertie now carrying the child in 
his arms while Catherine carried his rapier and cloak for him. 
At last, in the darkness and close to seven o'clock, they came 
to the walls of the town of Wesel. It had taken them nearly 
four hours to travel about five miles through the rain and 

Their spirits rose as they walked through the gate in the 
great walls. They could sense the strength of the fortifications 
that surrounded the town and they took comfort from the 
feeling of security given by stone and mortar and from the 
knowledge that within this town there were many Protes- 
tants like themselves. Roman Catholics there were in plenty 
on the continent of Europe, in near-by France as well as in 
the Low Countries and in Germany; but surely here behind 



these stout walls, in company with others of their own faith, 
they would be safe from persecution. And so their hearts 
were lighter as they entered the town. This was not the way 
they had hoped to come to this haven. They were wet, tired 
and half frozen, and no one knew of their coming. But they 
had got there, and they approached the first inn they came to, 
with a sigh of relief at seeing shelter in sight. They were 
turned away brusquely. No rooms were available, they were 
told, and though Bertie offered to pay more than the inn- 
keeper's price, the answer did not change. On they trudged, 
from one hostel to another, always meeting the same rebuff. 
The hosts of the inns would barely speak to them. In their 
drenched and dishevelled condition they presented a sorry 
picture, and the innkeepers took Bertie for a lance knight 
the common foot-soldier of Germany, hated everywhere for 
his brutality and Catherine for his woman, and they would 
have none of them. 

It was too much for the duchess. Her baby was shivering in 
her wet clothes, crying pathetically from cold and hunger; 
and as Catherine held her close in her arms to try to warm 
her, her own head drooped over her child and she wept as if 
her heart would break. A lump rose in Bertie's throat. Was it 
for this that they had come to this far country, to be hunted 
like animals, turned out in the cold and rain, hungry, tired 
and friendless ? Catherine's sobs shook her slender body. She 
had looked forward with such eagerness to their arrival in 
Wesel; there, she had felt sure, they would find kindness and 
warmth and asylum. She held her child closer to her, with 
her free hand clinging to her husband. But try as she would, 
she could not control her weeping. 

Richard Bertie gazed about him, wondering what he could 
do now to bring some comfort to these two who were so 



dear to him. Looming black in the darkness and rain, he saw 
the outlines of a church. Gently he guided his wife's stumb- 
ling feet towards it and into the porch, where he eased her 
down in a protecting corner. 

'Stay thou here/ he told her softly, 'and I will go and find 
food and fire, and coverings.' 

Leaving his wife and child as comfortable as he could make 
them, Bertie strode out into the dark, unfriendly street, not 
knowing which way to turn, in which direction to go. In 
spite of his brave words, he was all but despairing of finding 
one who would sell him anything; and the first man he 
approached made him more than ever aware of the difficulties 
of their predicament. For he could neither understand the 
man nor make himself understood. With all his linguistic 
ability in French, Italian and Latin, Bertie had scarcely any 
Dutch. He went blindly on, meeting with one blank look 
after another as he tried the languages he knew on the people 
he met in the rain-swept streets. Finally he found himself once 
more in the square before the church where his wife and baby 
awaited him and the comforts he would bring. Slowly and 
more slowly he approached the church, dreading to tell his 
half-frozen Catherine that he had not even a bit of straw to 
put between her and the cold stones of the porch. He walked 
slowly and sadly, when suddenly a sound made him stop in 
his tracks. Straining his ears he heard it again coming out of 
the darkness, the sound of voices, speaking in Latin. Bertie 
groped his way towards the sound, and found two young 
Dutch boys talking together in a language which he knew 
and could speak. He broke in on their conversation, and 
offered them two stivers (silver coins) if they would take him 
and his wife and baby to the house of some Walloon. The 
boys hardly expected anyone to be about on such a night, let 



alone offering them silver for what seemed to them such a 
simple errand. They were astonished, but they waited while 
Bertie ran up to the porch and got Catherine and Susan, and 
then they led them, just a little way, to a house, where they 
left them abruptly and vanished into the darkness, clutching 
their stivers in their hands. At Bertie's first knock the door 
was opened, and the shaft of light that came from within 
disclosed the sorry-looking trio, bedraggled, dirty, shivering. 

'What are you,' asked the man in the house, 'who are you 
and what seek you?' 

Bertie answered, * We are English, and we seek the house of 
one Master Perusell.' 

The man seemed surprised. 'Stay a while,' he said, and 
turned from the door and went back inside. Bertie heard him 
talking with someone in an inner room. In less than a minute 
the man was back, and at his side, staring in disbelief, stood 
Master Perusell. A minute they stood so, each gazing at the 
other speechless, when the pastor stretched out his arms to 
them and drew the three weary waifs out of the rain and 
cold, into light and warmth and friendliness. 

The mistress of the house took the duchess and little Susan 
with her to her bedroom, where she gave Catherine dry 
clothing to put on and even found a little dress, belonging to 
her child, for the baby. Hardly able to speak for gratitude 
and relief, Catherine dressed herself as the kindly hostess 
rubbed her child dry and put on her the warm clothing. 
Together they went downstairs, to find a fire burning, and 
the cheerful light of candles and a good dinner. Catherine's 
husband, clean and dry and dressed like herself in warm 
borrowed clothing, sat near the fire, listening to Master 
PeruselTs story. 

That very day, the pastor told them, he had completed the 



arrangements for their coming to Wesel, and at the moment 
when their knock came at the door, he had been telling his 
friends, with whom he was having supper, about them. The 
host had been very much surprised when he went to the door 
and found them standing there, but he had not guessed their 
true identity. Wet and bedraggled as they were, he had 
believed, and had so told Master Perusell, that servants of the 
English folk he had been talking about were even then on the 
doorstep, looking for him. Of all the houses in Wesel, know- 
ing nothing of what the people they guided really wanted, 
those two boys had brought Bertie and his family to the one . 
man they sought. It seemed an age since they had left the 
warmth and comfort of their simple lodging in Santon. But 
although at first Wesel had been unfriendly and forbidding, 
they had never dreamed or even dared to hope, when they 
had had to start out without a message from Master Perusell, 
how warm and complete would be their final welcome 

Within a very few days after their arrival, their friend had 
found a house for them in the town, into which they moved 
with relief and joy. Gradually the news of who they were got 
about among the Walloons, and on the next Sunday a 
preacher in Wesel publicly rebuked the innkeepers, from his 
pulpit, for their inciviHty and unkindness to the strangers 
within their gates, 'discoursing how not only princes some- 
times are received in the images of private persons, but angels 
in the shape of men'. Little by little the fear that had come to 
be the constant companion of Richard Bertie and Catherine 
faded, as the people of Wesel made them welcome and as 
they were able to talk openly about their faith with others of 
the same persuasion and to worship their God according to 
their belief. The cold raw winter passed into spring, and 



spring became summer, green and lush in the damp, flat 
country, country which was quite different from their own 
rolling Lincolnshire but which reminded them, with its tiny 
streams and patches of green woodland, of the fen country 
round about Cambridge, and which was beautiful to them 
because of the friendly atmosphere. Through the summer, as 
Catherine lived peacefully in Wesel, serenely awaiting the 
coming of her new baby, the memory of their cold and un- 
comfortable journey from Santon and of the fears that had 
dogged their footsteps slipped far into the back of her mind, 
never quite forgotten but no longer the nightmare it had 

Catherine's and Richard Bertie's son was born on October 
1 2th. He was baptized in Wesel, probably in the great brown 
Gothic church of St Willebrod, the same church whose 
steeple had been a beacon to them in their journey from 
Santon, in whose porch, only seven months before, Catherine 
had huddled, unhappy and half frozen, while her husband 
searched for food and warmth for her and Susan. Now it was 
all different. They stood there, happy and unafraid, as their 
little son was christened by Henry Bomelius, the pastor of 
the church, little Susan at their^^lHegazing wide-eyed up at 
the ceiling with its intricately ribbed vaulting. A few kind, 
good friends stood near by as Richard Bertie gave Master 
Bomelius the baby's name, Peregrine Bertie, chosen for him 
by his parents because he had been born during their wander- 
ings. This was a happy time for the duchess and her husband; 
they had each other, they had two beautiful, healthy children 
and they had freedom, to think and speak and worship 
according to the dictates of their own consciences. If they 
thought with sadness and nostalgia of their loved home in 
England, they thought with ever-increasing gratitude and 



affection of their adopted home and of the kind people who 
had made them a welcome part of their lives. However long 
they might stay there, they were happy and content. 

But once more the storm clouds were gathering over the 
heads of Catherine of Suffolk and her husband. 

Some time during the winter of 1555-6, the blow fell. 
Queen Mary's ambassador in the Netherlands was Sir John 
Mason, a practising Catholic and a servant to the queen, but 
also a friend to the many English who were living in exile in 
the Low Countries. Mason sent word to Richard Bertie that 
knowledge had come to him that Lord Paget, one of the 
queen's Privy Councillors, then in Holland, had invented an 
errand to the baths near by, that the Duke of Brunswick, 
with ten ensigns, would shortly pass by Wesel, and that 
together they planned to intercept and charge Bertie and his 
! wife with heresy. "Wesel was no longer a safe place for 
Catherine and her husband. Once again Richard Bertie was 
obliged to tell his wife that their period of security was at an 
end, that they must, as quickly as possible, leave this haven 
that they had come to love and the friends who had become 
dear to them both, and again take to the road to escape their 

They left their comfortable house and the town of Wesel 
with its friendly folk, sadly and reluctantly, and travelled to 
a part of Germany known as High Dutchland. This journey 
took them out of the flat country of Cleves and up the 
Rhine, through the narrowing river-valley with mountains 
lowering above them on either side, threatening heights with 
g^reat fortress-castles on top. Who were in those ominous 
fortresses, were they friendly or antagonistic to the travellers 
thd^r watched, far below? Bertie and Catherine could not 
know. It was a long journey and a dangerous one; with two 



little children, one a babe in arms, it was difficult and 
arduous. They were heading for the town of Weinheim in 
the Palatinate, a place where they knew they would be as 
safe from their persecutors as they could be anywhere. Otto 
Heinrich, the Prince Palatine, was a Protestant; he and his 
brother whom he had succeeded had both been friends of 
Martin Bucer. It is possible that during his stay in Cambridge, 
Bucer had told Catherine about the two brothers and their 
sympathy for the reformed religion. Perhaps that was why 
Catherine and her husband had decided to make the long and 
hard trip up the Rhine. Over the mountains as the crow flies, 
Weinheim is about one hundred and fifty miles from Wesel; 
it was much farther as they had to travel. They may have 
gone part of the way by boat, it would have been shorter so, 
but still slow since they would have been going up river, 
against the current. However, Richard Bertie and his 
Catherine were not to be deterred by hardship or fatigue, and 
finally they reached their goal, where the Prince Palatine 
took them under his protection and where once more they 
settled down to live. 

The town of Weinheim was east of the Rhine, in the 
mountains of the Oberwald. It lay in a curve of the moun- 
tains, protected from the cold north-east winds, and it had a 
warm and gentle climate. Citron grew in Weinheim, and 
even some dwarf palms, but beech trees and occasional oaks 
reminded the Berties of Lincolnshire. And here and there a 
field of grain waved on the steep hillsides. The little family 
settled down in a castle high on a hill by the town, a castle 
with thick walls and stout gates, belonging to the Prince 
Palatine. 2 They lived there for the better part of a year, and 
would have been happy to stay for as long as need be. But 
although they lived as frugally as possible, and Catherine 



even sold some of her jewels to get money for the necessities 
of life, their funds began to dwindle alarmingly, until by the 
late winter, in 1557, they saw the end of their resources 
staring them in the face. The situation was a grim one, and 
they did not know where to turn or what to do. Their 
prospects looked utterly hopeless, when help came to them 
from an entirely unexpected source. Letters came from King 
Sigismund of Poland, the same king who was rumoured to 
have wanted to marry the duchess some years back, and 
from the Count Palatine of Vilna, both of whom had been 
told of their sorry plight by John a Lasco. John a Lasco was 
the son of a Polish nobleman. Born in 1499, he was 
reared in the Catholic Church and had been ordained a 
priest; but as a young man he had come under the influence 
of Erasmus, and by the year 1540 he had become an active 
reformer and the pastor of a Protestant congregation in 
Emden. He spent some time in England, and in 1550 he had 
been superintendent of the church of foreign Protestants in 
London. A Lasco was a good friend of Thomas Cranmer and 
of Martin Bucer; he had visited Bucer in Cambridge and had 
probably met the duchess there; their zeal for a common 
cause and their affection for the frail ecclesiastic whom they 
both loved would have been strong bonds between them. 
John a Lasco left England for Poland in September of 1553, 
and though his path and that of the Berties did not actually 
cross on the Continent, he had heard of their travels, knew 
of their difficulties and had told Sigismund and the Count 
Palatine about them. And so the king and the Count Palatine 
wrote to Bertie and the duchess, offering them hospitality in 
Poland, a house, lands, sustenance. It was a generous offer, it 
would mean permanent security for Richard Bertie and his 
family, exiled from their homeland for how long they could 



not foresee. But Poland was far away. It would take weeks, 
perhaps even months of journeying through strange country 
to get there; it would be a difficult and hazardous journey 
with a woman and two small children. And what if they got 
there and found that King Sigismund had changed his mind? 

Bertie hesitated. In spite of their desperate state, he was 
reluctant to expose his family to the rigours of such a trip. 
And then he and the duchess talked with one William 
Barlow, sometime Bishop of Bath and Wells, and now, like 
themselves, an exile from Catholic England. They promised 
Barlow a share in the advantage that might come to them if 
he would go and see the King of Poland, find out if he indeed 
meant his generous offer and get from him a statement over 
his royal seal. They gave Barlow what jewels they had left, 
to give to the king in token of their gratitude for his kindness, 
and Barlow set forth. Travelling alone, he journeyed swiftly 
across Germany and into Poland, where, through the media- 
tion of the Count Palatine, he had an audience with King 
Sigismund, who sent him back to Bertie and the duchess with 
a formal offer, sealed with his great seal. Barlow delivered the 
document to Richard Bertie, and told him and his wife of his 
reception and of what he had seen for himself that Poland 
was in fact now largely Protestant, and a place where religious 
freedom was widespread. Nicholas Radziwell, the Count 
Palatine, was an ardent Calvinist, who was devoting his 
energies and his considerable fortune to advancing the cause 
of Protestantism, and the King of Poland was married to 
RadziwelTs daughter, Barbara. Poland would be a safe 
place and a congenial atmosphere for such strong Protestants 
as the duchess and her husband. 

And so, for the third time, Richard Bertie and his family 
took to the road. They left the castle of Weinheim in April, 



just about a year from the date of their arrival there, the 
duchess with the two children and her women servants in a 
wagon, Bertie with four horsemen riding alongside. There 
was one other member of the party, a member who in all 
innocence provided the cause of the first and most dangerous 
encounter of their whole journey. This was their little dog, a 
pet spaniel, who sometimes rode in the wagon with the 
women and children, and sometimes romped along beside it. 
The little caravan started northward, towards Frankfurt. 
They had not gone very far when they met a band of horse- 
men, led by one of the Landgrave's captains. Clearly the 
captain was spoiling for a fight, and the little dog, playing 
about, perhaps nipping at the horses' heels, gave him his 
excuse. The captain and his soldiers rode down upon the 
travellers, attacking Bertie and his men and even thrusting 
their boar spears into the wagon in which the duchess and 
her children and serving-women were riding. Bertie and his 
horsemen, though far outnumbered, put up a good fight, 
when, in the midst of the melee, the captain's horse was 
killed under him. It was an easy matter for the captain to get 
another mount from one of his men, an easy matter, too, to 
start a rumour that some Walloons had attacked and killed 
the captain on the road. In spite of the bravery of Bertie and 
his small band, the fight was going against them. From her 
place in the wagon, safe now that the captain had discovered 
that there were only women and children there, Catherine 
could see how hopeless it was, and that unless they could get 
help, her husband and all his men would be killed. When 
she was able to catch Bertie's eye, the duchess motioned him 
to go and get help as quickly as possible. Whereupon Bertie 
suddenly wheeled his horse and rode swiftly to the nearest 
town. But trouble was waiting for him there. The rumour 



that the captain had been killed by Bertie had reached the 
town ahead of him one of the captain's men had apparently 
ridden there and spread the tale and to make matters 
worse, the captain's brother was in the town and believed that 
this man who came for help was his brother's slayer. Led by 
the enraged brother, the townsmen fell upon Bertie. He was 
one against many, and among the many there was not one 
who would listen to him. His back was against a wall as he 
tried desperately to defend himself from the angry crowd, 
when he spied a ladder leaning against a house, its upper 
rungs in an open window. Somehow, he never knew how, 
he managed to reach it, and like a flash he was at the top 
and inside the building. But he was stiJl far from safe. At any 
second he knew that his enemies would be inside and upon 
him, catching him in a hopeless trap. He made his way up a 
staircase and into a sort of garret at the top of the house, 
where he defended himself for a time, his 'dagge' in one hand 
and his rapier in the other, holding his enemies temporarily 
at arm's length. He was in this state, hard-pressed on all sides, 
when the burgomaster and another magistrate of the town 
entered the room. Speaking in Latin, a language which was 
still far easier for Bertie than Dutch, the magistrate urged 
him to submit to the law. Bertie knew that he was innocent 
of the captain's death, that the captain was, in fact, very much 
alive; he also knew that it was sheer suicide for him to con- 
tinue alone to try to fight off the enraged and unreasoning 
townsfolk. And so, the magistrate having promised him 
protection from the mob, Bertie put himself and his weapons 
in the magistrate's hands, and was committed to safe custody 
until his case should be tried. 

Bertie realized that he must have help, he knew that with- 
out it any trial in this town would be a mockery. Promptly 



he wrote letters, which his jailer dispatched for him, to the 
Landgrave and to the Earl of Erbagh, telling them both what 
had happened to him and of his wife's present predicament. 
The Earl of Erbagh lived only eight miles from the town 
where Bertie was imprisoned, and he had known the Duchess 
of Suffolk in the past. Immediately upon receiving the letter, 
he set forth to Bertie's assistance, arriving in the town early 
the next morning to find there not only Bertie, in safe 
custody, but also the duchess, who had managed to reach the 
town in her wagon with her women and children, and who 
was now trying to help her husband gain his freedom. 

To the astonishment and discomfiture of the people, when 
the earl arrived and met the duchess, he bowed low before 
her, making the obeisance due to a great lady. The men of 
the town looked at one another uneasily ; the great Earl of 
Erbagh, before whom they were accustomed to humble 
themselves, was humbling himself before this woman whom 
they had treated so badly, whose husband they had attacked, 
whose children had been in danger at their hands. To make 
matters worse for them, they had discovered the untruth of 
the rumour about the Landgrave's captain, and that he had 
not been killed but was alive and unharmed, and so they had 
no excuse at all to offer for their treatment of Richard Bertie. 
Shamefaced and frightened they crept away, but presently 
came back, trying to ingratiate themselves with the duchess 
and her husband, begging them not to have them punished 
for their ill deeds. 

Catherine was so much relieved to see her husband safe and 
sound, and both she and Bertie were so anxious to get on 
with their journey, that they made no move against the 
townspeople. It was enough for them that they had each 
other safe, and that their babies were unharmed. They 



thanked God for that, and they thanked the Earl of Erbagh 
for his courtesy and prompt help; and without further delay 
they got their caravan on the road again. 

They reached Frankfurt without more ado, and from there 
they had to travel through mountain country for miles 
before they reached the level land. It was a hard passage, and 
slow, through strange and rough territory. But at last they 
came out of the mountains on to the plains of northern 
Germany, stretching long and far between them and their 
objective. For days and weeks they made their slow but 
relatively uneventful way across the vast expanse, until they 
came into Poland. King Sigismund received them there as 
honoured guests. He had promised them his protection, 
which he gave them; but in addition he installed them in a 
large house, virtually a castle, in the county of Crozan in 
Samogitia that part of Poland which lay along the Baltic 
Sea, now Lithuania. It was a strongly Protestant area, being 
directly under Prince RadziwelTs authority. In all of Poland, 
however, there was a certain amount of general unrest, and 
the great concern of the king was to keep the peace in his 
kingdom and keep it from the horrors of civil and religious 
strife such as was occurring elsewhere throughout Europe. 
King Sigismund had no doubt heard about Bertie's business 
and executive ability, and he knew, from the time when he 
himself had been in England, of Catherine's many gifts and 
of the happy way in which she had managed her own large 
establishment. He invested Richard Bertie with the royal 
authority, turning over to him and the duchess the govern- 
ment of the province of Samogitia, to rule it in his name for 
as long as they might live there. 

Bertie and his family left the king's presence, with gratitude 
and anticipation. This was more, much more, than they had 



hoped for. Not only would they now be safe from persecu- 
tion, they would also have an honourable position, where 
their talents for organization and for intelligent administra- 
tion would be useful and valuable, and where they would be 
able to help in the work which meant so much to them both 
the spread of Protestantism. Their hearts were light, there- 
fore, as they took their way towards Crozan, in the midst of 
a country of lakes and fens, and forests of oak trees as tall and 
magnificent as those of their own home. 

This, then, was the end of their journey, a happy and useful 
and honourable ending for Bertie and his duchess. It was two 
and a half long years since they had set sail from England. 
They had been hunted and pursued; they had seen their 
money dwindle to almost nothing, with no more in sight; 
they had been cold, hungry and footsore more than once; 
and, too, they had met kindness, generosity and hospitality. 
They had had adventures of all sorts, but whatever had 
happened, they had never lost their courage or their faith in 
God and in mankind. In the midst of all their trials, Catherine 
had borne a fine son, a healthy, robust little boy who would 
one day be one of Queen Elizabeth's favoured courtiers, her 
'good Peregrine' she would nickname him; and in the end 
they had come to a position of honour, responsibility and 
security, in which they lived, comfortably and happily and 
usefully, for the remainder of Mary Tudor's Catholic reign 
in England. 

The trials suffered by the duchess and her husband during 
Queen Mary's reign made an impression which lasted for 
some years, even after both their deaths. Some time after the 
year 1588, one Thomas Deloney wrote a ballad on the subject 
which bore the tide, 'The Most Rare and Excellent History 
of the Duchess of Suffolk and her Husband Richard Bertie's 



Calamity', and which was written to be sung to the tune of 
'Queen Dido'. 3 Deloney was a silk-weaver by trade, who 
wrote pamphlets and ballads which had a considerable popular 
appeal. The ballad lacks literary merit, but the people, good 
subjects all of Queen Elizabeth, could sing with great feeling 
of the pitiful or hair-raising experiences caused by the wicked 
and unfeeling Bonner (the conservative Bishop of London; 
he was the villain of the ballad rather than Gardiner), and 
could end in a burst of triumph with the words of the last 

For when Queen Mary was deceas'd, 
The Duchess home returned again, 

Who was of sorrow quite released 
By Queen Elizabeth's happy reign, 

Whose Godly life and Piety 

We may praise continually. 

Still later, early in the seventeenth century, a play about the 
duchess's experiences was written and produced at the 
Fortune Theatre in Cripplegate. 4 Stories dealing with the 
lives of actual people appealed strongly to the populace and 
when a life contained as much in the way of adventure as did 
Catherine's, it was almost made to order for the writers of 
plays and ballads. It is doubtful, however, whether either the 
play or the verses would ever have appealed very much to 
Catherine and Richard Bertie. 




A dawn on November lyth, 1558, Queen Mary died, 
and on that same day Parliament proclaimed her half- 
sister, Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England. Elizabeth 
held her first Council meeting three days later, in the hall in 
the palace at Hatfield. At that meeting, Elizabeth appointed 
William Cecil, Catherine of Suffolk's old friend, to be her 
Principal Secretary and a Privy Councillor, saying to him: 

This judgement I have of you that you will not be cor- 
rupted by any manner of gift and that you will be faith- 
ful to the state; and that without respect of my private 
will you will give me that counsel which you think best 
and if you shall know anything necessary to be declared 
to me of secrecy you shall show it to myself only. And 
assure yourself I will not fail to keep taciturnity therein 
and therefore I charge you. 

Queen Elizabeth never had any reason to change her 
judgment of her first minister. He served her, and England, 
with wisdom and with unswerving loyalty for the next 
forty years. She could, and did, rail at him on occasion. She 
could, and sometimes did, refuse to act according to his 
counsel. But she never doubted his motives. She knew that 
among all the glittering Court this wise and quiet man was 
motivated only by what he believed was for her good and 
for the good of England. He was never the courtier, never 



one of her 'favourites', never emotional or self-seeking; he 
lived for his great love England and for England's 
queen. And although Elizabeth Tudor was often exasperating, 
contradictory, difficult, capricious, William Cecil recognized 
her as a great woman and a great queen, and he spent the last 
forty years of his life helping her to realize her great destiny. 
One of the very qualities in William Cecil which made 
Elizabeth Tudor listen to his counsel and often be guided by 
it was the quality which provoked Catherine of Suffolk and 
made her scold him and berate him. He never pushed his own 
ideas and beliefs beyond the point to which he believed the 
queen would go. Cecil was a Protestant; he had conformed 
during Mary's reign, had stayed in England rather than go 
into exile for his religion. He had gone to mass and had made 
the outward signs of adherence to Roman Catholicism. Since 
he had elected to remain in England, he had been obliged to 
do that to keep his freedom, but he had done it without 
conviction. He was Protestant, and his wife, Mildred, was an 
ardent Protestant; and he knew that by birth and back- 
ground, if for no other reason, Elizabeth would be Protestant, 
However, he recognized in the queen an inherent liking for 
the forms and symbols of the old religion and an instinctive 
distrust of the more radical Puritans, and he realized that if he 
were to push her too fast or too hard in the direction of non- 
conformity, the result might easily be merely to strengthen 
her conservatism. And so he was cautious and discreet, and 
the queen trusted his judgment and was influenced by it; and 
Catherine of Suffolk, whose quick tongue and ardent nature 
made her speak out forcefully for her belief, whether or not 
always wisely, was annoyed and irritated with him. 

Catherine and Richard Bertie heard of Mary's death and of 
Elizabeth's accession before the end of the year. The duchess 


is said to have sent New Year's gifts to the new queen 'a 
cushion all over richly embroidered and set with pearls, and 
the book of Ecclesiasticus, covered with purple velvet 
garnished and clasped with silver and gilt'. On January 28th 
she wrote to the queen to felicitate her on her accession : 

The Almighty and everloving God so endow your 
Majesty with His spirit that it may be said of you as of 
His prophet David, 'He hath found one after His own 
heart/ Your Majesty I know well knoweth how most 
naturally all creatures embrace liberty and fly servitude, 
but many most specially because God of His fore- 
conceived kindness created him thereunto ... wherefore 
now is our season if ever any were to say after Zakkery, 
blessed be the Lord God of Israel which hath visited and 
delivered your Majesty, and by you us, His and your 
miserable afflicted subjects. For if the Israelites found joy 
in their Deborah, how much more we English in our 
Elizabeth ... First your Majesty hath great cause to praise 
God that it pleased Him to appoint you the means 
whereby He showeth forth His great mercy... It is 
comfort ... to all your subjects that you do the will of 
Him that hath raised you up spite of His and your 
enemies ... And though I have my portion of gladness 
equal with the rest, yet I can not choose but increase it 
with remembrance of your gracious goodness towards me 
in times past, in the hope of continuance of the same in 
time to come. Only I greatly wait and pray to the 
Almighty to consummate this consolation, giving me a 
prosperous journey, and rejoice personally to see your 
Majesty and to rejoice together with my countryfolk 
and to sing our songs to the Lord in our native land. 1 



Catherine of Suffolk did not return to England until late 
in the spring of 1559, and before she came home she got news 
from England which was disturbing to her forthright and 
strongly Protestant nature, news that seemed to indicate that 
Protestantism was not being pushed forward in England 
with the single-minded vigour that she wished for and 
expected. On March 4th she wrote to William Cecil, in 
answer to a letter from him or from his wife, Lady Mildred. 
One wishes that letter had been preserved; as it is, one can 
only guess at what it must have said from the duchess's 
answer : 

The hand within the letter seemeth to be my Lady 
your wife's, the superscription Sir William Cecil's; but 
howsoever it be it is all one, yea, and so I would to God 
all our whole nation were likewise one in Jesus Christ 
as behooveth. Nay, if there be but eleven about her 
Majesty's person that savor one thing in Him she is happy 
and the whole realm. But alack, the report is otherwise, 
which is an intolerable heaviness to such as love God 
and her; yea, and that such as should rather be spurred 
holdeth her Majesty of her own good inclination, 
running most back, among which you are specially 
named. Wherefore, for the love I bear you I cannot 
forbear to write it; and if it shall please you to heed a 
simple woman's mind. Undoubtedly the greatest 
wisdom is not to be too wise, which, of all others, you 
should by experience chieflyest know. For if there were 
anything whereby that good duke, your old master, 
deserved and felt the heavy stroke of God, what is there 
else whereof men may accuse him but only that when 
God had placed him to set forth His glory (which yet of 



himself he was always ready to do) but being still 
plucked by the sleeve of [by] worldly friends, for this 
worldly respect or that, in fine gave over his hot zeal to 
set forth God's true religion as he had most nobly begun, 
and turning him to follow such worldly devices, you 
can as well as I tell what came of it: the duke lost all that 
he sought to keep, with his head to boot, and his 
counsellors slipped their collars, turned their coats and 
hath served since to play their parts in many other 
matters. But [to] beware in time is good, for though 
God wink at them He sleepeth not and will undoubtedly 
at length pay such turncoats home. Wherefore I am 
forced to say with the prophet Elie, how long halt ye 
between two opinions ? ... If the Mass be good, tarry not 
to follow it nor take from it no part of that honour 
which the last queen, with her notable stoutness, brought 
it to and left in (wherein she deserved immortal praise 
seeing she was so persuaded that it was good) but if you 
be not so persuaded, alas, who should move the Queen's 
Majesty to honour it with her presence, or any of her 
counsellors? Well, it is so reported here that her Majesty 
tarried but the Gospel and so departed. I pray God that 
no part of that report were true, for in conscience there 
is few of you that can excuse yourselves but that you 
know there is no part of it good after that sort as they 
use it; for the very Gospel there read is unprofitable or 
rather an occasion of falling to the multitude which, 
hearing it and not understanding it, taketh it rather for 
some holy charm than any other thing. Saints' faces may 
in Lent be covered (and it were good they were always 
so) but where Christ is He is bare faced, and specially 
where He hath openly preached at noon days ... To 



build surely is first to lay the sure cornerstone, today and 
not tomorrow; there is no exception by man's law 
that may serve against God's. 

There is no fear of innovation 'in restoring old good 
laws and repealing new evil, but it is to be feared men 
have so long worn the Gospel slopewise that they will 
not gladly have it again straight to their legs. Christ's 
plain coat without a seam is fairer to the older eyes than 
all the jaggs of Germany; this I say for that it is also said 
here that certain Dutchers should commend to us the 
confession of Augsberg as they did to the Poles, where it 
was answered by a wise counsellor [that] neither 
Augsberg neither Rome were their ruler but Christ, 
who hath left His Gospel behind Him a rule sufficient 
and only to be followed. Thus write I after my old 
manner, which if I persuade you, take it as thankfully 
and friendly as I mean it; then I will say to you as my 
father Larimer was wont to say to me, I will be bold to 
write to you another time as I hear and what I think; 
and if not I shall hold my peace and pray God amend it 
to Him. With my hearty prayer that He will so assist 
you with His grace that you may the first and only seek 
Him as His eldest and chosen vessel. And so I leave both 
you and your wife, resting as ready to do you both 
pleasure if I were able as willing to serve you. With my 
hearty commendations, from our house of Crossen, the 
fourth of March. 

So far yours as you are God's. 2 

There was no temporizing about Catherine of Suffolk. 
She knew what she believed and she stood, frankly and with- 
out equivocation, for her belief. She could never understand 



the attitude of those who felt that a little was better than 
nothing, those who made haste slowly, looking at both sides 
of the question and proceeding with caution. While dia- 
metrically opposed to Mary's belief, Catherine could under- 
stand the Catholic queen's forthright procedure in matters 
religious, could understand and even commend it, because 
Mary was acting according to what she really believed. 
Elizabeth was something else again. By birth and by all the 
circumstances of her youth she was committed to Protestant- 
ism; from the Roman Catholic point of view she was a 
bastard, unfit and unsuitable to be the Queen of England. 
During Mary's reign, she had become a symbol of the re- 
formed religion to all those whose sympathies lay in that 
direction; she had conformed, to be sure, had accepted Mary's 
establishment; but so, too, had all the Protestant gentry who 
had not fled overseas. In Mary's reign, to fail to conform was 
to court certain disaster. But when Elizabeth came to the 
throne of England, the English Protestants rejoiced, and the 
more zealous ones looked forward to strong and immediate 
support from their queen. When they saw that Elizabeth 
Tudor's Protestantism was not so strong or so outspoken as 
they had expected, people like Catherine of Suffolk were 
bitterly disappointed. 

Elizabeth chose for her councillors men who leaned to- 
wards the Protestant position. They were, for the most part, 
men like William Cecil, who had accepted and conformed to 
Catholicism under Mary. Although they were Protestants, 
they were not zealots, not ardent Puritans, but anti-Roman, 
anti-Spanish, anti anything that was not pure English. 
What had rankled most in the minds of a great many 
Englishmen had been not so much Mary's way of worship- 
ping her God as her Spanish marriage, her deference to 



persons and forces not English to Spain, to Rome, to 
foreigners. Elizabeth Tudor was as English as the land itself. 
And she surrounded herself with men who were equally 
English. Protestants themselves, her advisers recognized, as 
did the queen, that her best and most dependable friends were 
Protestants, both at home and abroad. But they recom- 
mended caution. In a document entitled The Distresses 
of the Commonwealth, endorsed A. Waad (Armagail 
Waad, a Privy Councillor in Edward's reign), the writer 

It requireth great cunning and circumspection ... to 
reform religion ... so would I wish that you would 
proceed to the reformation having respect to quiet at 
home, the affairs you have on hand with foreign princes, 
the greatness of the pope and how dangerous it is to 
make alteration in religion, specially in the beginning of a 
prince's reign. Glasses with small necks, if you pour into 
them any liquor suddenly or violently, will not be so 
filled ... Howbeit, if you instill water into them by a 
little and little they are soon replenished. 3 

This was the position taken by the queen's advisers, how- 
ever strongly they might feel personally. Even as staunch a 
Protestant as Nicholas Throgmorton, a man whose sympathy 
for the reformed religion was clear-cut and strong, recom- 
mended caution. They all recognized the number and com- 
plexity of the problems facing the young queen; they 
realized that her problems, both at home and abroad, would 
be still further complicated if, at the very outset of her reign, 
she should take too strong a stand for immediate overthrow 
of the old religion in favour of the new. 

Catherine of Suffolk was dismayed. With her own forth- 



Tightness and singleness of purpose, she had assumed that 
when Elizabeth came to the throne, Protestantism would be 
established instantly, overnight as it were; that the mass 
would be immediately abolished, along with the confes- 
sional and all the trappings of popery. "When this did not 
happen, she was shocked and astonished. Catherine had all 
the zeal of which the most ardent missionary is made. It was 
impossible for her to see that the ordinary people in England, 
the yeomen and their families, found comfort in the old 
forms, in the ritual of the service, the priest in his familiar 
vestments who christened them and married and buried 
them; she could not see that these people were not concerned 
about a pope in Rome or what he stood for, but that to take 
from them, abruptly, the forms, the outward and visible 
signs, to which they were accustomed, could cause great 
distress and even perhaps civil disturbance. So much for 
home. As for the foreign problem, the Pope, and relations 
with Spain and with France, these gave Catherine not a 
moment's concern. She saw life in clear, unshaded blacks and 
whites, never in greys. For her, what was right was to be 
supported, fought for and established without hesitation or 
delay; what was wrong was to be done away with equally 
promptly. She could never understand or condone what 
seemed to her to be the irresolute position of the queen's 
Councillors; she could neither understand nor remain quiet 
at the attitude of her old friend, William Cecil an attitude 
which she regarded as shockingly hesitant and for which she 
rebuked him sharply. Her rebukes were not altogether 
deserved. Cecil worked hard for the Elizabethan religious 
settlement, he spent time and energy on the establishment of 
the English Church. But he knew the problems confronting 
England, and he knew his royal mistress, her brilliance and 



ability, her stubbornness and waywardness. He recognized 
also the strong vein of orthodoxy in Protestant Elizabeth 
Tudor, and the fact that too great pressure on her to lean to 
the left could quite easily cause her to lean strongly to the 
right. Elizabeth never in her life quite trusted the zealots or 
the radical Protestants ; nor did she like or approve of their 
forms of worship. For one thing, they were far too casual for 
her. She could not approve of a clergyman marrying, or 
living as other men lived; and as for the lack of vestments, or 
the democratic way in which the churches were governed 
she neither could nor wished to understand such procedures. 
However, Elizabeth never did swing dangerously far to the 
right, and this was in no small part due to the wise and 
temporate counsel and to the restraint of her minister and 
principal secretary, William Cecil. 

Catherine and Richard Bertie and their children came 
home to England in the summer of 1559. On August 2nd 
of that year, letters of denization were passed for their 
young son, Peregrine, 4 and at about the same time, the 
queen issued a warrant to the Lord Treasurer and the Barons 
of the Exchequer to release Catherine Duchess of Suffolk and 
Richard Bertie, her husband, from all payments on account 
of lands, etc., seized by Queen Mary, and to restore to them 
all their lands, goods and other possessions. 5 Catherine and 
her husband were not homeless, therefore, nor were they 
saddled with debts to the Crown upon their return to their 
homeland. And so, after more than four years of exile, 
Catherine came home to Grimsthorpe, the place she loved 
better than any other in the world. 



Many changes had taken place in England during the 
years of Catherine's exile, changes in her own family and 
among her close friends. Her greatest loss was of course her 
dear friend, Hugh Latimer, who had been in prison when she 
left England and had finally been burned for heresy in the 
autumn of 1555. Then, Catherine's stepdaughter, Frances, 
the wife of Henry Grey (who had been named Duke of 
Suffolk in 1551 and had been executed in 1554 for his 
complicity in the Lady Jane Grey plot), had married her 
Master of the Horse, Adrian Stokes, shortly after her 
husband's death. Frances was unwell at the time of her step- 
mother's return to England. She died the following Novem- 
ber, and Catherine was the chief mourner at her funeral on 
December 3rd, 1559. Frances had had three daughters; the 
eldest, the Lady Jane Grey, had been beheaded before 
Catherine had left the country, but the two younger 
daughters, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary, had lived on at 
Court, where they were maids of honour to the queen when 
Catherine came home to England. They were not popular 
with Elizabeth. Possibly the fact that Elizabeth's father, as 
well as her brother, had designated the descendants of 
Henry's sister Mary as successors to the throne after Henry's 
own daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, had much to do with 
Elizabeth's antipathy towards these two young women who 
were Mary's granddaughters and direct descendants. How- 
ever, the relationship was amicable, on the surface at least, 
until the summer of 1561, when it became very obvious that 
Lady Catherine was pregnant. She had married, secretly, the 
young Earl of Hertford, son of the Lord Protector Somerset. 
They had been in love for some time, and they had hoped to 
get the queen's consent to their marriage, in 1559, through 
the intervention of Lady Catherine's mother. But Frances's 



illness made it impossible for lier to intercede for them, and 
with her death they had to look elsewhere for help. There is a 
story, no doubt true, that the young people turned to 
Catherine of Suffolk when it became impossible for Frances 
to assist them. The duchess, according to the story, was 
sympathetic, but emphasized the necessity of obtaining the 
queen's consent before any marriage could take place. A 
letter was prepared, and approved by the duchess, but at the 
last moment Hertford lost his courage and did not deliver the 
letter to the queen, and the young couple were married in 
secret. If in fact Lady Catherine and Hertford did go to the 
duchess for help, she would certainly have insisted that they 
must get Queen Elizabeth's approval to any marriage. 
Catherine of Suffolk had only recently returned to England, 
She may not yet have realized Elizabeth's antipathy to the 
descendants of her aunt Mary of Suffolk, but the duchess was 
very well aware of the fact that by an Act of 1536 it was 
treason for one of the blood royal to marry without the 
consent of the sovereign, and she would never have been a 
party to any secret marriage for Catherine Grey. 

Young Hertford and Lady Catherine Grey were married in 
November or December of 1560, and late the following 
spring, Hertford went to Paris in the company of William 
Cecil's son, Thomas. Not long after he had left the country 
his bride's pregnancy became a matter of comment, and the 
queen learned of their marriage. Elizabeth was outraged. She 
clapped Lady Catherine into the Tower and her husband 
after her, as soon as he got back to England, about a month 
later. By early September, both young people were prisoners 
in the Tower and there, on the 24th, their first child, a son, 
Edward, was born. The news of his birth infuriated the queen 
still further. Orders were given that there was to be no 



contact at all between Lady Catherine and her husband; but 
the orders were not carried out, for a year and a half later, 
still in the Tower, Lady Catherine gave birth to a second son, 
Thomas. This was almost the end of any contact between the 
young couple. On the 2ist of the following August, 1564, the 
queen gave orders that, because of the plague in London, 
they should both be removed, the Lady Catherine to the 
custody of her uncle, Lord John Grey, in Pirgo, Essex, and 
Hertford to his mother's house at Hanworth in Middlesex. 
The Lady Catherine and her husband never saw one another 
again. Upon the death of Lord John Grey, Catherine was sent 
to a succession of custodians ; she died in the house of Sir 
William Hopton in January of 1568. After her death, her 
husband no longer constituted a threat to the throne, and 
he was released. 

Only a short time, therefore, after her return to her home- 
land, Catherine of Suffolk had to see a second grandchild 
imprisoned. They were not of her blood, the Grey sisters, but 
she had watched them grow up into womanhood, they were 
dear to her and their fate was important to the duchess. 
Death had intervened to spare Frances Brandon from seeing 
a second daughter sent to the Tower, but Catherine of 
Suffolk had to watch while all three of the granddaughters of 
her husband, the duke, were publicly disgraced. 

Lady Mary, the third of the daughters, touched Catherine's 
own life most closely, although Mary herself was probably 
less close to the duchess than either of her sisters had been, 
certainly less close than the Lady Jane had been. In 1565, the 
Lady Mary Grey was still one of the queen's maids in waiting. 
In August of that year it became known that she had been 
secretly married to Thomas Keys, the queen's sergeant porter. 
It was a strange match; Keys, a widower with several 



children, was a huge man he had been chosen for his 
place because of his immense size while Lady Mary was so 
tiny as to seem almost dwarf-like. Sir William Cecil, writing 
to Sir Thomas Smith on August 2ist, said: 

Here is an unhappy chance and monstrous. The sergeant 
porter, being the biggest gentleman in the Court, hath 
married secretly the Lady Mary Grey, the least of all the 
Court. They are committed to several prisons. The 
offence is very great. 

Once again Elizabeth was infuriated. Moreover, she was 
not going to take any chances by sending the young couple 
to the Tower and having them have children there. She sent 
Thomas Keys promptly to the Fleet, the prison between 
Ludgate Hill and Fleet Street. For some reason, however, 
Lady Mary was not put in prison at all, but was placed in the 
custody of William Hawtrey at Chequers, in Buckingham- 
shire. She stayed there for two years, at the end of which 
time she was transferred to the custody of Catherine of 

The change took place in August of 1567. This was a 
charge which the duchess did not seek, and one which caused 
her considerable embarrassment and trouble. Lady Mary, in 
pitiful condition, was delivered into Catherine's care at the 
Minories, a London house which had belonged to Lady 
Mary's sister Catherine. On August pth, from Greenwich, 
the duchess wrote a desperate letter to Sir William Cecil, 
begging his help in the problem: 

According to the Queen's commandment, on Friday at 
night last, Mr. Hawtrey brought my Lady Mary to the 



Minories to me even as I was appointed to have gone to 
Grimsthorpe ... The truth is, I am so unprovided of stuff 
here myself as at the Minories I borrow of my Lady 
Eleanor and here of Mistress Sheffield; for all the stuff 
that I had left me when I came from the other side of the 
sea, and all that I have since provided for and gotten 
together will not sufficiently furnish our houses in 
Lincolnshire ... I was fain to declare the same lack of 
stuff to Mr. Hawtrey, praying that my Lady's stuff 
might come before her, for the dressing up of her 
chamber. But would God you had seen what stuff it is ! 
He before told me that she occupied his and none of her 
own, and now I see it I believe him well. I am sorry that 
I am not so well stowed for her as he was, but am com- 
pelled to borrow it from my friends in the town. She 
hath nothing but an old livery feather bed, all too torn 
and full of patches, without either bolster or counter- 
pane but two old pillows, the one longer than the other, 
an old quilt of silk so torn as the cotton of it comes out, 
such a little pitious canopy of red sarsonet as were scant 
good enough to hang over some secret stool, and two 
little pieces of old, old hangings, both of them not 
seven yards broad. Wherefore I pray you heartily con- 
sider of this, and if you shall think it meet, be a mean for 
her to the Queen's Majesty that she might have the 
furniture of one chamber for herself and her maid, 
and she and I will play the good housewifes and make 
shift with her old bed for her man. Also I would if I 
durst beg further some old silver pots to fetch her drink 
in, and two little cups to drink in, one for beer another 
for wine. A basin and an ewer I fear were too much, but 
all these things she lacks and were meet she had, and hath 



nothing in this world. And truly, if I were able to give 
it her, she should never trouble her Majesty for it; but 
look ye, what it shall please her Majesty to appoint for 
her shall be always ready to be delivered in as good case 
as by her wearing of it, it shall be left, whensoever it shall 
please her Majesty to call for it. I hope she will do well 
hereafter, for notwithstanding that I am sure she is now 
glad to be with me, yet I assure you she is otherwise, not 
only in conscience but in very deed, so sad and ashamed 
of her fault (I think it is because she saw me not since 
before) so that I am not yet sure she can get her to eat, 
in all that she hath eaten now these two days not so much 
as a chicken's leg. She makes me even afraid of [for] her, 
and therefore I will be the gladder for them. I think a 
little comfort would do well. 6 

It was a pathetic letter, a pitiful situation. There is no 
record of how Cecil responded to the duchess's request, or 
whether he was able to induce the queen to contribute any- 
thing for poor little Lady Mary's comfort. Elizabeth's 
attitude towards both of the sisters had been far from 
friendly, even when they were living in Court as her maids 
in waiting. When they flouted her authority and married 
without her consent, her anger was very great indeed, and 
she wished only to have them shut up where they could do 
no harm or inconvenience to her or to anyone, always 
excepting the inconvenience to their custodians. In any case, 
Lady Mary lived in the custody of the duchess for the next 
two years; in 1569 she was removed to the charge of Sir 
Thomas Gresham, who also wrote periodic letters to Cecil 
asking to be relieved of the burden. She and her husband 
were never allowed to see one another again. Keys died in 



1571, and Lady Mary in 1578. Her life, and the lives of her 
sisters, had been pitiful ones, and Catherine of Suffolk, 
although she felt ill equipped to take any responsibility for 
upkeep, was nevertheless sad at the thought of the three 
granddaughters of her first husband. 




their return from overseas, Catherine of Suffolk 
ZA and her husband maintained two homes in England, 
2. jLGrimsthorpe in Lincolnshire, and the Barbican, later 
called Willoughby House, in London. There were also 
smaller places, like Eresby near Spilsby in the eastern part of 
the county of Lincoln, which had come to Catherine as part 
of her inheritance from her father and which they kept up 
and visited occasionally; but Grimsthorpe and the Barbican 
were the places where they lived. They stayed in London for 
part of the winter months, or when they had to be there for 
one reason or another, and at times one or both of them 
stayed for a while at Court at Greenwich, but for the most 
part, from early spring to late autumn, they were in the 
country, and usually they managed to be there for Christmas. 
Grimsthorpe was still the place the duchess loved best of 
all. Sadness had been her companion there, and joy too. There 
she had spent the dark days after the death of her two sons, 
Henry and Charles Brandon, and there she had married her 
second husband, Richard Bertie. The house was full of 
associations and memories. Henry VIII had visited there, 
walked in the gardens, held Privy Council meetings in the 
great hall; Latimer had preached in the private chapel his 
great sermons on the Lord's Prayer, had paced up and down 
the long passages, the duchess at his side, talking with her 



about the religion and the belief that had come to be so vital 
a part of her life. Her young boys, Henry and Charles, had 
romped through the great house and played under the tall 
oak trees in the park as her two younger children, Peregrine 
and Susan, were now doing; and not too far away for visiting 
back and forth were good friends : the Cecils and the Mild- 
mays a few miles south, the Rutlands a little to the north- 
west, and others round about. Life at Grimsthorpe was 
pleasant and peaceful for Catherine, with family and friends, 
and with the country folk around her, loving and respecting 
her. She had spent much time among these people, back in 
Edward's reign, talking with them about the New Religion, 
seeing to it that the country folk were ministered to, that each 
little church had its own English Bible, that the people were 
taught the Gospel and the Ten Commandments and the 
Lord's Prayer, not in Latin but in their own language. 
Catherine was happy to be back in this county that she loved, 
where, given her choice, she would always stay. 

The Berries lived comfortably, in considerable state. The 
household was a large one: account books which included 
virtually every aspect of their life were kept, and those which 
survive, covering a period of about two years, give a picture 
of a noble family living in the country pleasantly and easily. 
The books 1 begin: 

Such as daily remain in the household of the right 
worshipful Master Richard Bertie, Esquire, and the right 
honourable Lady Catherine duchess of Suffolk, his wife, 
hereafter followeth, with their quarterly wages. Anno 

My Master 

My Lady's Grace 



The Lady Elinor (daughter of the duke of Suffolk) 2 
Master Peregrine 
Mistress Susan. 

Then come a number of women's names, probably the 
waiting-women of the household, Mrs Turpine, Mrs Mary 
Chamberlain, Mrs Jane Whittington, Mrs Anne Clark, Mrs 
Dorothy Turke, Mrs Ashby, Mrs Mary Hall, little Frances, 
Ann Cannock, Mrs Alice Hatch. Except for little Frances and 
Ann Cannock, probably children of members of the house- 
hold, all of these women were paid 135, 4d. the quarter, 
which appears to have been about the average wage. 

Mr Coverdale, the preacher (he may have been a relative 
of Miles Coverdale, the translator of the Bible), got 5 the 
quarter; the cofferer, i.e. treasurer, got 25$. Mr Naunton, 
Master of the Horse, was paid 135. 4d., as were the gentlemen 
ushers, the gentlemen waiters, the clerk of the kitchen, the 
clerk of provisions. The yeomen of the cellar, the butler, 
the pander, the yeomen of the wardrobe, all got los. the 
quarter. Two cooks were paid 255. each, and grooms of the 
table received 155. One gardener was paid 145. 4d., while 
two were paid 155. each. The number of the household listed, 
exclusive of the family, comes to one hundred. 

After the list of personnel, the accounts are divided into 
categories, starting in October of 1560. The first heading is 
'The Wardrobe of Robes', and includes such entries as: 

October, 1560. 

To my Lady's Grace, for a winter gown in the allowance 
of a bill signed with her own hand ^5- I 3s. 

For bombassy [padding] for my Master's satin 
doublet I 2S - 



To Anthony Berwick for so much money by him paid 
for 5 yards of frysian for my Master's jerkin and slippers, 
at 2s. the yard ios. 

April, 1561. 

10 ounces of Granado silk for my Master's shirts, 245. 8d. 

February, 1562. 

A pair of Valencia gloves for my Master lod. 

A hat of thrummed silk, garnished, and a band of 
gold, for my master at his coming to Grimsthorpe, i8s. 

In November of 1561 there was an item of .28 Tor silks 
taken by my Master according to a bill in my Master's hand' ; 
and in December, material for 'a black velvet gown for her 
Grace', cost .5. In January, 1562, the duchess paid ys. for 
'fine Holland for ruffs and borders for my Master's shirts'. 
And so it went. Bertie and Catherine dressed well Bertie 
especially appears to have been very particular about his 
dress. The finest materials, silk, satin and velvet, Holland linen 
and sheer lawn, went into their clothes; soft furs kept them 
warm in winter, sable and coney and squirrel. Little Susan 
had a dress of crimson satin, and a caul of gold work held 
her hair. 

There were occasions, once in a while, when they paid 
only part of a bill at one time, as in November 1561, when 
they paid to Mr Bland, a skinner, .14, 'in part' for furs for a 
gown for Richard Bertie; and again in June of 1562, when 
they paid Clement Newce, a mercer, .60, in part payment 
of a bill of 178. ys. 6d., for 'sundry silks ... for my Master, 
her Grace, the children and their servants'. But this did not 
happen often, and there is no reason to believe that Bertie 
and the duchess did not pay their bills, or that they were 
really hard pressed to do so. The expenses for clothes were 



heavy, however. In addition to their own apparel and their 
children's, there was clothing or livery for the members of 
the household, for which the Berries of course had to pay. 
In April 1561, the women of the household, Mrs Turpine, 
Mrs Mary Chamberlain and the rest, eight in all, were paid a 
total of ^6. 28. 8d. Tor velvet to gard [trim] their livery 
gowns'; in March 1562, the sum of 3 was paid for Mr 
Coverdale's livery. Such items run all through the accounts. 

Shoes were a recurrent expense, and hose. Sixteenth- 
century children were no different from their twentieth- 
century brothers and sisters in their propensity for wearing 
out or outgrowing shoes and stockings, and Catherine and 
Richard Bertie bought footwear, as well as all other clothing, 
not only for their own two active children, but also for the 
'children of honour', nine boys and one little girl, who lived 
in the household, apparently as companions for Peregrine 
and Susan in lessons and in play. There are items for shoes 
practically every month: 'shoes for George Sebastian and 
George Adams, 2od.' and 'shoes for John Turpin, yd.'. In 
March 1561 there were bought 'two pair of shoes for Pere- 
grine, one for Susan, one for Richard Hall, yd. the pair', and 
in April Susan had another, better, pair which cost isd. 

The actual making of the clothes was done almost entirely 
at home, the expenses noted are for materials for gowns, 
robes, shirts, hose, and there were also items such as thread 
and buttons, materials for linings what the modern dress- 
maker or tailor would call sundries. 

The next category in the household accounts is headed 
'Wardrobe of Beds'. The best beds, those for the family and 
probably those for the higher echelon of the household, 
were featherbeds, of course. These were kept sweet and 
fluffy by 'driving' - forcing a current of fresh air through the 



feathers. One John Bee of Lincoln, and one Richard Thomp- 
son, were featherbed drivers, and they, particularly John Bee, 
were in frequent attendance at Grimsthorpe. The cost for 
driving a featherbed was about 2s. Now and then an up- 
holsterer would come to make new beds, to sew up the ticks 
and fill them with feathers. Ticking and feathers were both 
purchased: one featherbed tick cost ids. in December 1560. 
The kitchen servants slept on straw beds, under coverlets of 
'Irish rogge' (a coarse frieze), which cost yd. the yard; 
nineteen yards of 'white blanket' for coverings for the family 
cost 10 2s. pd., or over los. the yard. In November 1561,* 
an item appears for 'thirteen mats to lay under beds' at lid. 
each. These may have been for the purpose of protecting the 
sleepers from the chill coming up from the stone floor, or they 
may have been simply to protect the featherbeds themselves. 

Under the heading 'Wardrobe of Beds' there are also such 
items as rushes for floors, candles and torches (these for the 
bedrooms; candles also appear later under the heading 
'chaundry'), and house-cleaning. In March of 1562, 'cleaning 
the house at Grimsthorpe' cost 2s. 8d. Obviously those who 
worked at such menial tasks as scrubbing and cleaning were 
paid a mere pittance. Grimsthorpe was a huge house, with 
halls which ran the length of each side of the quadrangle and 
numberless rooms opening off the long corridors, living 
rooms, dining rooms, rooms for entertaining on the ground 
floor, bedrooms and retiring rooms above; the 'forty maids 
with forty mops' of Alice in Wonderland would have to work 
long and hard to give it a real spring-cleaning. 

The next heading, 'Gifts and Rewards', covers a multitude 
of payments, not only such items as New Year's gifts, and 
rewards for favours done, but also all kinds of tipping, pay- 
ment to the many travelling players and musicians who 



entertained the Berties and their household, even payment of 
the doctor who attended members of the household: *to 
William Cooke of Stamford, surgeon, when my Lady's 
Grace was sick the second day, ios.' and to a 'bone-setter ... 
for the setting in of two joints which were out in young 
Jerves' ankle, 3S. 4d/ 

The various items listed under this heading of * Gifts and 
Rewards', taken all together, give a picture of the pleasant 
life lived by Catherine and Richard Bertie in the country. 
Together they rode horseback, along the winding lanes and 
over the fields, giving a penny for his help to the man who 
hastened to open a 'gappe' in the hedge for them to pass 
through. They visited and were visited by their neighbours; 
in September 1562 they were at the Cecils', where they 
tipped the servants 6s. 4d.; in September of 1562 they were 
at the house of Sir Walter Mildmay in Northamptonshire, 
where Bertie did some hunting (they tipped two keepers 125. 
in addition to the 3s. 4d. which they gave to the yeoman of 
the wardrobe), and from there they went to visit the Earl of 
Rutland at Belvoir Castle in the lovely wooded county of 
Leicestershire, where, among the various forms of enter- 
tainment provided, there was a man who played on the lute 
so beautifully that they singled him out for special notice and 
gave him 6s. when bestowing the customary end-of-visit 
gratuities (which amounted to 405.) .-On the ride back home 
from Lord Rutland's, they were caught in a sudden late- 
summer downpour, and stopped in a house on the wayside 
while Catherine got dried before the fire; they gave the 
woman of the house I2d. for her hospitality. 

The months of December and January were a particularly 
costly time for gifts, since New Year's Day was the customary 
time for giving. In December, 1561, for example, they paid 



14. i os. to one David Suls for a New Year's present for the 
queen, and Tor extra work and extra gold', because the piece 
was 'not well wrought', they paid an additional .4. 148. 8d. 
And in January 1562, they made still further payments of 
more than ^5 for a gold chain for the same gift. They gave 
Peregrine and Susan 2OS. each for their New Year's gifts, 
and they gave varying amounts, usually a number of shillings, 
to the members of the household. 

Payments of gifts, or fees, to travelling players and other 
entertainers went on throughout the year. In the winter- 
time, the great house had ample space for entertainers, and 
room not only for the household but for neighbours, too, to 
come and witness the performances ; while in the summer the 
gardens, with their background of tree trunks and green 
leaves, made a natural theatre. In summer and in winter when 
the family was there, there was much gaiety at Grimsthorpe. 
In January 1561, musicians from Godmanchester (about 
forty miles away in Huntingdonshire) performed at Grims- 
thorpe and were paid 2os. Other items in the same month 

To the players the first day for my Master los. 

To the players for my Lady's Grace 5s. 

To George the trumpeter, for my Master 35. 4d. 

To two violins for my Master 3s. 4d. 

In February: 

To one which played the hobby horse before my 
Master and my Lady's Grace 6s. 8d. 

In March the waits of Lincoln were given 2od. for their 
entertainment; in July, a group of travelling players was paid 
13$. 4d., and later in the same month, 'Goods, the master of 



fence and his company ... played before her Grace' and they 
also were paid 135. 4d. In August, puppeteers came, and 
stayed two nights to perform. And so it went on: in July of 
1562, the queen's players performed at Grimsthorpe for 20$., 
and again the waits of Lincoln came (they entertained the 
household frequently). In the same month, Mr Naunton, the 
duchess's Master of the Horse, was married (he may have 
been a distant kinsman, for in some of her letters the duchess 
referred to him as 'cousin Naunton') ; Bertie and the duchess 
gave him ^6 'to buy a gown of grogram and a doublet of 
satin against his marriage', and they paid a juggler los. for 
performing at the wedding festivities. 

There were gifts, or rewards, too, to people who did small 
favours, servants of friends who delivered presents, and the 

To one which brought a fresh salmon in present from 
Mr. William Sutton 2d. 

A poor man who came to the gate which had his house 
burnt, by my Master's commandment pd. 

To Mr. Goddall's man which brought a basket of pears 
in present 4d. 

To one of Morton in recompense of a cow which the 
hounds killed 6s. 

To a servant of Lord Clinton's which brought a doe 
in present 5 s * 

To certain women of Spilsby which bestowed wine 
and cakes upon Mr. Peregrine and Mistress Susan I2d. 
To Mr. Peregrine, Mistress Susan and the rest, by her 
Grace, to buy them fayrings of a peddler at the gate 2s. 

Catherine or Richard Bertie, or their children, often stood as 
godparents at local christenings, for example: 



To the christening of John Persons' child, my Master 
being godfather by his deputy, to the child, 2s., to the 
midwife, 6d. 2s. 6d. 

To Paske's wife, when my Master christened her child 55. 
To the christening of Mr. Francis Harrington's child 
by Mistress Susan 3s. 4d. 

To the christening of Archibald's child by Mr. Peregrine 
and Mistress Susan, 245., and to the nurse and mid- 
wife, 6s. 3 os. 

and so on, one every month or so, throughout the year. 

There are certain entries under the heading 'Gifts and 
Rewards' which shed a somewhat surprising light upon some 
customs of the day in cases of contagious disease, at least in 
the households of the gentry. In the winter of 1561-2, when 
the duchess was in London at the Barbican, she fell ill with 
smallpox. She cannot have been very ill, for she enjoyed a 
considerable amount of entertainment during her sickness. 
She played cards; an entry in another section of the house- 
hold accounts reads 'To my Lady in single pence, to play at 
tables in her sickness, by my master's commandment, I2d.' 
Moreover, visiting players came and performed before her 
while she was ill: a Mr Rose and his daughter were paid 
135. 6d. for doing so, and a servant of Lord Willoughby (a 
cousin of the duchess) played and sang for 2od. Apparently 
quarantine was not too rigidly observed; one wonders how 
the members of her household and those who came in from 
outside to entertain her felt about being so close to one with 
smallpox, and how many of them caught the disease from 
the duchess. In a letter to Cecil from Paris, in November 
1562, Sir Thomas Smith, then ambassador to France, re- 
marked that smallpox had Vexed England these two or three 



years'. Small wonder ! Later on in 1562, the queen herself fell 
ill with it. She could not have caught it from the duchess, 
who had it a year earlier, but it is scarcely surprising that 
someone, whether actually suffering with the malady or 
simply carrying the germs, finally gave it to the queen, who 
was, as it happens, far more seriously ill than the duchess had 
been a year before. 

Dr Keyns, Tor his pains taken in the sickness of her Grace 
and Lady Susan', was given a cup 'of silver all gilt' which 
cost ^5. I4S., and for 'ministering medecine to her Grace for 
the small pox', an Italian was paid 55. 

'Works and Buildings' is the tide of the next category in 
the household accounts. This included glaziers, slaters (for 
the roofs), carpenters, sawyers, colliers, smiths, fellers of wood 
for hedging and so forth; in other words, those who repaired 
the house and kept it in condition. The expenses under this 
heading varied, month by month, from a minimum of 
about fy to a maximum of about ^20. It included work at 
Grimsthorpe, of course, small repairs at Edenham, Eresby 
and Bellais and quite a bit of work at the Barbican. 

As its name implies, 'Husbandry' included sowing and 
mowing, reaping and winnowing, at Grimsthorpe and at 
Edenham and Scotelthorpe which adjoined it; making 
ploughshares and scythes, felling wood for fires, making it 
into bundles and bringing it in. It included also the care of the 
cattle, in field and in barn, well and sick. It did not include 
horses; they came later, under their own heading. 

'Necessaries', the next category, seems to have been a sort 
of catch-all for anything which did not fit easily under any 
other heading. Under this heading, in January 1561, is the 
entry: 'To Mr. Coverdale, for Eliot's dictionary, I2S., for 
four Lilies grammars, 4s., for four Dialogues, 2S. 8d., for 



four Aesop's Fables, 2s.' Mr Coverdale, besides being the 
chaplain, appears to have been tutor to the children. In the 
same January the sum of 3d. was paid out for 'birch for rods' 
when the children at Grimsthorpe were naughty, they 
were punished in the manner of the time. 

There is also an item of 3d. for 'brown paper to stop crenies 
in the chambers, her Grace being sick', and 2s. for 'meat for 
the turkey cocks at the Barbican', and i6d. 'for flowers 
brought to the Court', and other, unrelated, outlays. But the 
most recurrent payment listed under 'Necessaries' is money 
used, chiefly by Richard Bertie, for playing cards. Bertie 
appears to have been an enthusiastic gambler for small 
stakes. Starting in January 1561: 

To my Master at cards the second day at night 2s. 

To niy Master at cards the third day at night 2s. 

To my Master at cards the sixth day afore noon 3s. 

To my Master at cards that night 2s. 

and so on, throughout the year. Sometimes the entry indi- 
cates that Bertie was playing with friends at Grantham or 
some other neighbouring town, sometimes in London; and 
occasionally the entry reads 'to my Master at tables with her 
Grace' (Bertie seems always to have lost to his wife : there is 
no entry of money to her for playing with him!) ; but most 
frequently the entry reads simply, 'to my Master at cards'. 
These items are more numerous at the holiday season, from 
Christmas till the end of January, than at other times, 
although they appear all through the year; but even the 
children, Peregrine and Susan, were given a few shillings 'to 
play upon Christmas Day'. These entries for money for card- 
playing and, in the summer months, for rovers a sort of 
archery contest are particularly interesting in view of the 



fact that Richard Bertie and his wife were such strong sup- 
porters of a religion which, less than a century later, was so 
unalterably opposed to any form of card-playing or gamb- 
ling. But at the beginning, Puritanism was concerned with 
the Church itself, with promoting a simple form of worship, 
and with the government of the Church; it was not until 
later that the Puritans turned their attention to the social 
activities of the people, and imposed upon their members the 
sort of austerity associated in most minds with the term 
Puritanism. Catherine and Richard Bertie were far from 
austere. Their religion meant everything to them a warm, 
loving religion, based upon faith in God and His love. They 
worked hard among the people of the county to spread the 
Gospel which meant so much to them, but, sure in their own 
faith, they never found it necessary to shun the simple 
pleasures that made their life full and happy. 

'Bakehouse and Pantry' included flour, wheat, bread. The 
items for wheat and yeast occur every month, and almost 
every month appears 'butter for the baker'. In the country 
the bread was made on the place, in the bakehouse, while it 
appears that it may have been bought when the family were 
in London. Also under this heading come utensils for cook- 
ing, and trenchers for the table; one dozen silver-plate 
trenchers cost ^26, and a basin and ewer *of silver fashion' 

COSt I2S. 

Under the heading 'Brewhouse and Budery' were malt 
and hops, casks and payments to the cooper; there were 
strong beer, at ys. the barrel, double beer at the same price, 
and small beer for 45. 6d. a barrel. Beer was bought in large 
quantities everyone drank it. 

The 'Cellar' was kept stocked with various kinds of wine: 
claret and Rhenish wine, bitter wormwood wine and sack, 



and cordials with exotic names, Hippocras and Jubilate. 
These were often transported from London to Boston by 
sea freight, thence overland to Bourne and Grimsthorpe. 
Frequently it was bought by the tun or by the hogshead, 
sometimes by the gallon; six gallons and one bottle of worm- 
wood wine cost los. lod. in July of 1561; in August five 
quarts and one pint of sack came to 2s. pd. A good deal of 
wine was drunk, and wine jelly was made; in December 
1561, '5 quarts of claret wine to make jelly' cost only 2od. 
Drinking vessels for the wine, often of pewter, also were 
listed under the heading of 'cellar', 

'Spicery, Chaundry [place for keeping candles] and 
Laundry' were gathered together under one heading. The 
spicery was heady with the odours of ginger and cinnamon, 
cloves, mace, aniseed, cumin seed, pepper, mostly bought 
from the grocer in London. Many of these were fairly 
costly: a pound of cloves cost us., cinnamon was not much 
less, IDS. 6d. a pound; mace was even more, 14$. for a pound, 
while aniseed and cumin seed were much cheaper, i'4d. and 
8d. a pound respectively. Ginger and pepper, in the middle 
of the price range, cost 35. a pound. Alongside these more 
exotic herbs, bunches of thyme and verbena, sage and lavender 
and peppermint, all gathered from the herb gardens at 
Grimsthorpe, hung in fragrant clusters to dry. In the spicery 
also were biscuits and comfits, and sometimes marmalade. A 
bill paid to 'Modie the grocer' in London, for such diverse 
items as figs and raisins, castile soap and marmalade, in 
March 1562, came to ^21. ips. 6d. In the Chaundry there 
were torches and rush lights, candlewick and wax for making 
candles, rosin, quarriers (large, square candles with a wick in 
the middle), candle rods and sockets. For the laundry there 
was soap, castile soap, sweet soap a barrel cost sos. and 

1 60 


grey soap which came to I2ci. for four pounds. One item was 
recurrent every month: washing pantry cloths, thirty-odd 
dozen of them each month at 3d. the dozen. 

The next heading was 'Kitchen*. The first thing which 
strikes one in this listing is the amount of fish that was con- 
sumed: herrings, white fish, ling; fresh fish and salt fish, and 
salt for salting down fish. In October, 1560, eight hundred 
salt fish were bought for ^66. 13$. 4d., and half a hundred 
ling for 7; the next January six barrels of white herrings 
cost 23$. 4<1. the barrel, and six barrels of red herrings cost 
I2s. each. There was also meat, veal and mutton and pork 
most commonly. The meat was mostly for the Master's table 
and for the higher members of the household. At the lower 
levels, fish was the regular fare. The major part of the kitchen 
expenses was for fish and meat, but not all. Eggs were a 
recurrent item; they were not bought regularly, but in 
quantity. In March 1562, for example, 420 eggs were bought 
at a cost of 5s. lod. ; and now and again oranges were bought, 
which, surprisingly, were not very costly, 3$. lod. for four 
hundred of them. The Berries got their coal in in the spring 
and early summer, as soon as the roads were in condition for 
hauling; sixteen loads and twenty-two sacks were delivered 
at Grimsthorpe from April to June of 1562 (a load of coal was 
thirty sacks and cost about 20s.). The coal is listed under 
'Kitchen' in the accounts, and was probably used exclusively 
for cooking ; in the cold weather, wood fires kept the house 
as warm as it was ever kept, and added their glow to the 
flickering light of candles and torches on winter nights. 

The duchess and her husband travelled about a good deal. 
The next section in the accounts is headed 'Journeying*, and 
scarcely a month passed in which one or both of them did 
not take a trip, whether long or short. They went to visit 



friends in other parts of the country, and now and again they 
went to see others of their manors; in August of 1561, for 
instance, they travelled to the eastern part of Lincolnshire, 
to Boston and to Eresby, a manor belonging to the duchess. 
The cost of this trip was ^7. 6s. 4d. But the longest, and most 
frequent, trip was to London, In December 1560, there 
appears the entry: 

To Harry Naunton for sums by him laid out for my 
Master's journey to London ^ J 5- 3s. 3d. 

For my Master's return from London to Grims- 
thorpe 9 . i 3s . 

The trip to London was a long one. When he went alone, 
Richard Bertie would travel by horseback, and fairly fast; 
but when the duchess with her train travelled to the city, 
three days would be spent on the way, with two overnight 
stops and shorter pauses, every day, for rest and refreshment. 
From Grinisthorpe through the winding roads between tall 
trees down to Bourne, the way was over gentle hills, by the 
fields of Edenham and Scotelthorpe, with sheep grazing in 
the fields, and stretches of corn, wheat and oats, down into 
the little town with its narrow street and houses of soft grey 
stone, in one of which Catherine's good friend, William. 
Cecil, had been born. Upon leaving Bourne, the country 
quickly became flat; they were coming into the fenlands, 
country of rich black earth, with fields and clumps of wood- 
land as far as the eye could see. And the eye could see for 
miles across an expanse of land as level as a table top. They 
might reach Ermine Street - the North Road built centuries 
before by the Romans at Stamford, near William Cecil's 
country home, Burghley House; or they might go through 
Peterborough with its great cathedral and come into Ermine 



Street just north of the little town of Stilton. At Stilton 
Catherine would make her first stop, for a rest and a glass of 
wine, before proceeding to Huntingdon where she would 
spend her first night. That day she would have journeyed 
about forty miles. The next morning the party would leave 
Huntingdon and go on to Royston, where they would stop 
for dinner and a rest, and then to Puckeridge for the night, 
some thirty-two miles in all. The last day was the longest, 
but they would break it more than once, at Hoddesdon and 
again at Ware for rest and refreshment, and for dinner at 
Waltham Abbey. This was a long and tiring day, over forty- 
five miles ; but at the end of it the duchess would have arrived 
at her destination and could rest. 

The total cost for overnight stays, meals and refreshments 
on the way, for Catherine and her train came to ^8. os. 6d., 
with an additional charge of 56$. 6d. for the 'rust wagon' 
with eight persons with it. 3 

While the Barbican was the Berries' London headquarters, 
now and then they spent time at Court at Greenwich, 
travelling there by river from London. In June of 1562, there 
was 'paid for boat hire for my Master and her Grace and 
their servants, with carriage of stuff, by water and land from 
London to Greenwich, 3. 75. 4<1/, and Tor the meat of 
fifteen persons at the Court at Greenwich by the space of 
twenty days, .3. los. 4d'. Whenever she travelled, whether 
between Grimsthorpe and London, to Court or elsewhere, 
the duchess moved with an entourage. In November 'the 
suppers of twenty-four persons at the Swan in Charing Cross 
which attended upon her Grace at the Court' cost us. 4d., 
and there are numerous other references to her 'train* or to 
the persons who attended her. 

The last heading in the Household Accounts is 'Stable*. 



This included all the horses, and the food and equipment for 
them and their care. In October 1560, there is the entry: 'To 
Archibald Barnard for a horse if my Master likes him... 
/y, and also an item of 8d. Tor frankinsense to smoke sick 
horses'. In October of 1561, 4$. was paid for 'two crewel 
reins for gentlewomen', and in December a pair of silken 
reins for my Lady' cost 26s. 8d. The duchess also had a 
pillion cloth, trimmed with silk fringe, for 30$. Then there 
were horse-shoes, saddles, straw for litter, grain and bran, 
visits by the veterinary. In July 1562, the costs for the stable 
came to .9. ips. sd., and they ran to about that sum every, 

Supplies for the kitchen and some typical menus are listed 
in another, shorter, book, 4 much as a twentieth-century 
housewife might make a marketing list. But the list was for a 
heavier diet than the average of today. A list of supplies 
reads as follows: 




salt fish 

white herring 

salt herring 


butter, fresh and salt. 

Another list reads: 

fallow deer 











red deer eggs 

vea l salmon pie 

capons porpoise pie 

geese mustard seed 


Certainly this was a high-protein diet ! 

The tables were listed in order of rank; first the Master's 
table, then the gentlemen of the household, then the clerks, 
the yeomen, the porters and the kitchen. Meat was served in 
variety at the Master's table; one typical menu reads, 5 
'Boiled meat, boiled beef, pigeons, roast veal, rabbit, baked 
venison'. Less meat and more fish appears at the gentlemen's 
and clerks' tables, and below that level the fare was almost 
entirely fish of various kinds. Fish was served at the Master's 
table, too, of course, but not always, and never exclusively. 
Oysters, in season, were also served at the Master's table. 
Butter was served; at dinner it was on the upper tables, at 
supper on all the tables; it was regular fare in the cold 
weather, occasional fare in the summer. Apparently fresh 
butter was a delicacy then as It is today, for the higher tables 
had it, while those below the clerks were served salt butter. 
Breakfast was a meal for the children, consisting of eggs and 
sometimes mutton; it is not mentioned for any of the rest of 
the household. 

Reading these lists and menus, one can hardly wonder at 
the number of people in the sixteenth century who seemed to 
be suffering from gout or from other ailments associated 
with too much of a diet of meat. There is no mention of 
fresh vegetables or of fruit (except for the occasional oranges, 
and figs) ; there is no suggestion that the children were ever 
told to 'drink your milk', or even that milk was given to 



them. Meat and fish and starches, washed down with wine 
or beer, these were the order of the day, all days. 

The Berries lived well, however; they lived well and they 
took good care of their children and the members of their 
household, they fed them and clothed them, saw to their 
well-being, spiritual as well as physical, saw to it that they 
had pleasure as well as work. It was a large and complicated 
household to run and to manage, and it was costly, as were 
many of the households of the gentry. From time to time the 
duchess made protestations of poverty, but except for her 
years in exile, she always maintained a large establishment. 
Unfortunately, no record survives of income, so it is impos- 
sible to know what she had to draw on, or what proportion 
of her income went into the running of her household. 
But it was Catherine's fortune which made possible the 
establishment; most if not all of the money was hers. Richard 
Bertie came from a simple background, with no particular 
means. In all the pages of the household accounts, none the 
less, the emphasis is upon the Master, his orders, his expendi- 
tures. Even such a small item as the I2d. for the duchess to 
play cards was 'by my Master's commandment'. There is no 
question, in the records, as to who was the head of the house; 
there was no doubt either, one can be sure, in the mind of the 
woman who lived so happily, whether in Grimsthorpe or the 
Barbican, who watched over the health and education of her 
children, who saw to the well-being and the domestic per- 
formance of her household Richard Bertie's loyal and 
devoted wife, Catherine. 




CATHERINE'S husband was an able man, well educated 
and intelligent. William Cecil recognized this, and in 
the early autumn of 1563, he tried to draw Richard 
Bertie into some form of public service. The actual post 
which Cecil had in mind for Bertie does not appear, but 
Richard Bertie was not inclined towards public life, and was 
unable to imagine himself in whatever position Cecil wished 
him to fill. On October 3 oth he wrote to Cecil (his letter was on 
the same page with a note from the duchess to her old friend) : 

As your loving commendations much comforted me, so 
the significations to some public function much encum- 
bered me, yea, so much that if your gravity had not been 
the better known to me I should have thought it scant 
seriously written. But seeing you meant it faithfully, I 
pray you in season correct your error in preferring 
insufficiency for sufficiency, and to deliver yourself 
from rebuke and me from shame. My prayer is that I 
shall find you so friendly and readily hereunto inclined 
that I shall not need to iterate my suit. 1 

Bertie's reluctance to enter into public life did not, how- 
ever, entirely prevent him from serving his country. In the 
same year, 1563, he was elected a representative to Parlia- 
ment from Lincolnshire, along with William Cecil who also 



sat for the county of Lincoln. Bertie sat in the Commons for 
four years (the second session of the Parliament of 1563 met 
in 1566), and was a member of the committee on the Succes- 
sion. Except for the bare fact of his membership on this 
committee, there is no evidence of any great activity on 
Bertie's part. The second session of the Parliament was 
active in many matters; in the question of apparel, of uni- 
formity in ecclesiastical vestments, which the queen favoured 
and the Puritans opposed, because of the suggestion of 
'popishness' ; the question of the subsidy; and, of course, the 
perennial question of the succession. Richard Bertie was a 
good Puritan, and he would certainly have been staunchly 
among those who opposed uniformity of vestments; more- 
over, his presence on the succession committee suggests that 
he was an active member of the group who were pressing 
upon the queen the need for her to marry, or at least to 
designate her successor pressure which always roused 
Elizabeth Tudor's wrath. 

A certain coolness between the queen on the one hand and 
Catherine of Suffolk and her husband on the other persisted 
as long as Catherine and Richard Bertie lived. It seems not 
improbable that their outspoken Puritanism and their 
zealous work for the Puritan cause, as well as Richard Bertie's 
almost certain stand in the queen's Parliament, were factors 
in developing this cookess. Elizabeth, although Protestant, 
was definitely conservative. The Puritans' position on practic- 
ally everything was abhorrent to her. To Catherine of Suffolk 
and her husband, however, the established Church was no 
better than a shadow of the Roman Church, and they were 
never less than outspoken in their fervent support of the 
Puritan position and their work to promote the Puritan 
cause. Temperamentally, too, the two women, the queen 


Richard Bertie, Esquire 


and the duchess, were poles apart. Elizabeth Tudor had 
learned in the hard school of her girlhood to be cautious and 
wary; attitudes which appeared to be devious and oppor- 
tunist were often positions taken in order not to offend 
those whose good will was important to her and to England. 
She could be outspoken in her anger, in scolding counsellors 
or courtiers who displeased her, but for the most part, 
forthrightness was a luxury she had learned to do without. 
If she had not been cautious, if she had not, often, paid lip- 
service to what she did not herself endorse, she could hardly 
have lived through her sister's reign to become England's 
queen. The same characteristics which had been her means of 
self-preservation then, she was now using for the welfare and 
preservation of England. Charming she could be, and 
fascinating she certainly was and clever too, but she was the 
antithesis of the equally charming and witty but completely 
candid and forthright Duchess of Suffolk, the woman who 
had never temporized about what she believed and who had 
never counted the cost of her outspokenness. So Elizabeth 
Tudor and Catherine of Suffolk could never really be 
friends, not even in the later part of her life when the years 
had somewhat tempered the vehemence of Catherine's 
zealousness. As the queen always mistrusted the zealots, the 
duchess was disappointed and disillusioned by the subter- 
fuges of the queen's Court and by that which she regarded as 
weakness in her sovereign the fact that she did not come 
out strongly and unequivocally as a champion of Protestant- 
ism and an enemy of anything faintly suggesting Catholicism. 
In August of 1564, Richard Bertie was one of those who 
accompanied the queen on her state visit to Cambridge. The 
visit lasted for five days, with entertainment of the most 
lavish sort, orations and masques, comedies and tragedies, 



provided by the university for the sovereign's pleasure. The 
queen made a long oration in St Mary's church to the entire 
university, and the degree of Master of Arts was conferred 
upon a number of the gentlemen of the Court. Richard 
Bertie was among the distinguished group receiving the 
degree, a group which included such men as the Duke of 
Norfolk, the Earls of Sussex, Warwick and Oxford, Sir 
William Cecil and others. 

In 1564-5, the dispute between the duchess and her uncle, 
Sir Christopher Willoughby (now Lord Willoughby of 
Parham), which had started at the time of Catherine's father's * 
death, cropped up for the last time. It concerned the titles to 
various manors, which had apparently continued unsettled 
throughout the thirty-seven years since William Lord 
WUloughby's death. The dispute was settled amiably enough, 
for the final depositions read: 'Lord Willoughby resigns all 
claim in Willoughby, Eresby, Spillsby, Toynton, Steeping 
and Pinchbeck; and he covenants to make an assurance of 
these manors to Richard Bertie and Catherine within two 
years.' And: 'Richard Bertie and Catherine resign all claim in 
Parham, Orford and Hogsthorpe; and they covenant to 
make an assurance of these manors to Lord Willoughby 
within two years.' 2 The matter did not arise again. 

Some time during 1568, Richard Bertie composed an 
answer to John Knox's First Blast of the Trumpet Against the 
Monstrous Regiment of Women. In his answer, Bertie sets forth 
the arguments of Knox (whom Bertie calls simply 'author') 
one by one, and under each one he writes his 'objection'. It 
is a long document, covering both sides of nine closely 
written folios, 3 refuting Knox's position, sometimes insisting 
that Knox was inconsistent and even that he contradicted 
himself. It was never published, and there is no indication 



that it ever came to the attention of the queen. It makes very 
clear, however, that even though Richard Bertie may have 
been close to John Knox in his thinking on matters religious, 
he disagreed categorically with him in his arguments against 
women rulers. If the queen ever saw it, she must have been 
approving and gratified, although she might have found its 
length and rather prolix style somewhat tedious. 

Susan Bertie became engaged to Reginald Grey in the year 
1570. She was then a girl of about seventeen. It has been 
suggested that the comparatively humble background of her 
father stood in the way of an earlier and more brilliant 
marriage for Catherine and Richard Bertie's daughter. This 
may have been so, or it may not have been. Although it was 
older than the marriageable age for many sixteenth-century 
maidens, seventeen was a good age for Susan and her suitor 
to use the duchess's own words of many years earlier 
'to begin their loves without our forcing'. Reginald Grey was 
the son of Sir Henry Grey, the half-brother of Richard Grey, 
Earl of Kent. Richard Grey gambled away what money he 
had, and Reginald's father, because of the smallness of the 
estate, never assumed the title. But when Reginald Grey 
became the suitor for her daughter, and married Susan, the 
duchess promptly set to work to get the tide revived and 
bestowed upon her son-in-law. Though Catherine of Suffolk 
was opposed to marriages made for position rather than for 
love, she had a healthy regard for a tide, and she intended that 
her daughter's husband should have his. She started in with- 
out delay, approaching the queen directly on the subject and 
working through her old friend Sir William Cecil, the 
queen's principal secretary. She began writing to Cecil about 
the matter on July 29th, 1570* with a letter 4 in which she 
asked him to deliver a letter from her to the queen, and to 



put in his own good word Tor the furtherance of the same'. 
She pointed out Reginald Grey's right to the title, and that he 
had never offended in any way but was 'only undone and 
unabled to receive what he was rightly born to by his for- 
bears' great unthriftiness'. In a postscript to the letter, the 
duchess said, 'To make Mr. Grey the more able to serve her 
Majesty, Mr. Bertie gives him a hundred pounds land with 
his daughter.' And she went on to ask Cecil to keep her 
request secret from all save the queen, so that if Mr Grey 
should need to 'set up candles' before others of his friends, he 
might do so without prejudice to his cause. 

Catherine of Suffolk wrote this letter from Wrest, the 
Greys' home in Bedfordshire. Apparently she spent most of 
the summer of 1570 visiting there, probably preparing for 
Susan's marriage, for she wrote twice to Cecil from there in 
August, about the matter of Reginald Grey's inheritance, and 
about a second matter which she was beginning to press, 
namely her desire to have the title of Lord Willoughby (she 
herself was, of course, the Baroness Willoughby by inherit- 
ance from her father) conferred upon Richard Bertie for his 
lifetime, after his death to revert to their son Peregrine. On 
September ist Richard Bertie wrote to Cecil from Wrest, 
where he had been summoned by his wife's illness. He found 
her 'somewhat eased', he told Cecil, and Very much com- 
forted* with Cecil's friendly letters which she gave Bertie to 
read. Bertie went on to say that he was sending Cecil material 
relative to his own birth and fitness to bear the title of Lord 
Willoughby, saying: 

As I have no cause, so I am no wit ashamed of my parents, 
being free English, neither villains nor traitors. And if I 
would after the manner of the world bring forth old 



Abbey scrolls for matter of record, I am sure I can reach 
as far backward as Fitzalan ... the arms I give I received 
from my father, and they are the same which are 
mentioned in the scroU that he showed to the heralds and 
confirmed by Clarentius, the old man that was in King 
Henry the Eighth's time. 5 

So matters stood when, some time in the autumn or winter 
of 1570-71, Susan Bertie and Reginald Grey were married. 
On April I5th, 1571, the duchess wrote again to Cecil, who 
had been elevated to the peerage as Baron Burghley, She 
wrote from Grimsthorpe, saying that she understood from 
her 'son Grey' that he had 'troubled you and the rest of my 
good Lords with his petition for his right to the earldom of 
Kent, and that he found you were all very gracious in hearing 
of his said suit' . The duchess suggested that Reginald Grey him- 
self might not have moved in the matter 'if his friends had not 
greatly wished him to it, amongst the which I am sure I shall 
be judged one, and the chiefest doer in it'. Catherine went on 
to tell Cecil that she had had an audience of the queen in 
Toddington (in Bedfordshire, the home of Lord Cheyney, 
where the queen was staying on a progress), at which time 
the queen 'of her great goodness' had told Catherine 

that for my sake she would credit him baron, in the 
which as I found myself most bounden to her Majesty, I 
gave her Majesty most humble thanks, further saying 
that if it pleased her Majesty to think him worthy of 
honour, that then I most humbly besought her Majesty 
that it would please her to restore him to that he was 
born to, or else to let him remain still as he was, for by 
any creation he should lose his right in the other. Her 
Majesty thought he had no further right, and was 



affronted with me that I should so say, but in the end 
I found her Majesty so gracious to me that she said if it 
could be found his right, God forbid but he should 
have it. 6 

The Duchess of Suffolk was not going to settle for a barony 
when she believed that her son-in-law was entitled to an 
earldom, and the queen, in spite of her annoyance, could not 
but admire Catherine for not weakly accepting the lesser tide. 

Catherine of Suffolk was far from well all through April 
of 1571; in fact, after her return from her exile, the duchess 
was plagued with more or less minor illnesses for the re- 
mainder of her life. The rigours of her travels overseas had 
taken their toll of her health, and while she was not really 
seriously ill, even when she had smallpox, she was never 
again as robust as she had been before she left England. Late 
in April she wrote again to Cecil to thank him for sending to 
ask about her health, 'which I confess is yet not very well, for 
that I took upon me a greater journey than I was well able to 
endeavour after my long sickness'. 7 (Toddington was a good 
sixty-five to seventy miles from Grimsthorpe.) But the 
duchess was not too unwell to write letters in an effort to 
further Reginald Grey's suit. On May I2th she wrote to 
William Cecil again, and once again on the 25th, 8 to tell him 
that she had had another audience of the queen, when 
Elizabeth had been most gracious and friendly at the start, 
but that later on the queen's attitude had changed: 

... so it was as grievous to me to see her Majesty the 
Sunday after so strange to me, in which short time I had 
done nothing neither in word nor deed to offend her 
Majesty. Surely I must confess her Majesty's strange 
countenance ... was no little grief to me, and more than 


I was able in the sudden to digest, but when with better 
leisure I remembered that though men might fail me yet 
God would be merciful to me, it made me of better 

Catherine of Suffolk was not alone in finding the whims 
and sudden reversals of her queen bewildering and 'grievous'. 
Her faith in her God, however, was as strong and vital a part 
of her as ever it had been, and it sustained her even when she 
was almost completely discouraged, as she was by the queen's 

On June i6th the duchess wrote a long letter to Cecil, in 
which she raised the question of whether the queen's position 
in Reginald Grey's suit was caused by her prejudice against 
herself and her husband and her daughter. 

I had thought, my good Lord, never to have been 
troublesome to you more, but now more occasion 
serveth me so to do. I would gladly have showed your 
Lordship such talk as passed between her Majesty and me 
but seeking you in your chamber I could not find you. 
It pleased her Majesty to say of herself that she would not 
forego my son's matter. I said for that matter I left it even 
to God and her Majesty, only this grieved me, that I 
feared the poor gentleman should fare the worse for my 
sake. Her Majesty answered most graciously, 'God 
defend that,' and acknowledged to me that he had good 
right indeed to his name, for the law was fully with him 
in it. Marry, her Majesty said she was informed he 
rather sought the lands in her hands appertaining to the 
earldom under colour of the name. I said I had for that 
in his behalf proffered her Majesty a full release of all 
such lands in her hands ... and also I complained myself 



to be so continuously unjustly reported to her, for she 
laid to my charge that even I should make the claim of 
such lands. In the end her Majesty ... withall gave me 
better words than a subject could look for at their 
prince's hand. But ... what can we think but for the re- 
ward of our faithful heart to her we be recompensed 
with her great misliking. 9 

The duchess went on to say that it was common gossip, 
both in and out of Court, that the reason why she was press- 
ing Reginald Grey's suit was in order that her daughter 
Susan should "have a high place'. Catherine repudiated any 
such idea, saying that while it would be only natural for a 
mother to wish the best of everything for her child, she was 
not doing any of this for Susan's benefit; in fact, she said, she 
would personally prefer never to have Susan use the title 
than to have Reginald Grey lose it because of her. 

Catherine's perseverance was rewarded. Later in the year 
1571, Reginald Grey assumed the titles of eighth Baron Grey 
de Ruthvin and fifth Earl of Kent On January 2yth, 1572, 
Bishop Parkhurst of Norwich, the same John Parkhurst who 
had been her chaplain thirty years before, wrote to the 
duchess to congratulate her upon her son-in-law's advance- 
ment to the earldom, saying that he wished they had him in 
Norfolk, 'that having such a one as he is, in commission, we 
might together travel to reform that is out of frame, to the 
advancement of God in his glory and the suppressing of 
Popery in these parts, wherein for want of help I cannot do 
that I desire'. 10 Reginald Grey had more to commend him to 
Catherine of Suffolk than simply being her daughter's 
husband; it is apparent from Parkhurst's letter that he and 
Susan's mother saw eye to eye in the matter of religion. But 



he did not live long to enjoy his honours or to work for the 
advancement of Protestantism in England; he died within the 
next three years, and as he and Susan had no children, he was 
succeeded by his brother Henry. Some eight years after his 
death his young widow married Sir John Wingfield, a 
captain in the queen's army in the Low Countries. Wingfield 
was a friend of Susan's brother, and he and Susan named 
their only child Peregrine, after him. It was a peculiarly apt 
name, because the infant, like his uncle, was bom in a foreign 
land, where Susan had gone to follow and be with her soldier 

But although Catherine of Suffolk was successful in her 
efforts on her son-in-law's behalf, she did not succeed in the 
project which was probably much closer to her own heart. 
Her husband was never given the right to assume the title of 
Lord Willoughby. Catherine worked hard for it, William 
Cecil worked for it; it was debated between commissioners 
in London and there was some feeling that Bertie should be 
given the right. The findings of the commissioners were laid 
before the queen, but the matter got no further. There was 
support for Bertie's claim, but there was also strong opposi- 
tion, and the queen was pulled from both sides. In 1572, when 
she was on a progress, the commissioners laid the claim 
before Elizabeth, not for the first time. The queen acknow- 
ledged Bertie's claim most graciously, but said that she was 
travelling and that after her return to Westminster she would 
decide it. Richard Bertie could be gracious too. He sensed 
the difficulty of the queen's position, he knew that the old 
nobility were opposed to his use of the tide, and he said that 
he was satisfied, that the reason why he had wished the case 
to be heard was in order to relieve the queen of the belief 
that there was no right. From that time on, Bertie did noth- 



ing to press his claim. The outcome was a bitter disappoint- 
ment to Catherine of Suffolk. And Bertie himself would 
have liked to enjoy the title. But it was not worth the 
wrangling which he realized was bound to develop, perhaps 
ending in final denial. And so he held himself satisfied with 
the queen's statement that she had heard and was considering 
his claim. 

Peregrine Bertie, Catherine and Richard Bertie's only son, 
had spent part of his youth in the household of William 
Cecil. The duchess was anxious for her son to have the 
advantages which close association with the queen's principal 
secretary, a man of great wisdom and great influence, could 
bring to him. It was quite usual in the sixteenth century for a 
young man to live in the household of one of the distin- 
guished men of the Court. The young Earl of Essex, and 
Philip Sidney, to mention only two, were both at various 
times members of Cecil's household, so it was not a reflection 
upon Peregrine's own father that he was sent from home in 
this way; he could get a kind of training, living in Cecil's 
house, which he could not possibly get at home. It is an 
interesting side-light upon the duchess's boys that whereas 
the two sons of Charles Brandon, the soldier and courtier, 
were both lads of outstanding promise in learning and in 
scholarly pursuits, Peregrine, the son of the more scholarly 
and thoughtful Richard Bertie, never excelled as a student 
and was to make his name as a soldier and man of action. 
But that time was to come later. Catherine would not live to 
hear the queen refer to her son as *my good Peregrine', or to 
see him distinguish himself overseas in important military 



posts. In his youth, Peregrine went through a rather wild 
period and caused his mother considerable anxiety. It was 
probably no more than the natural exuberance of a very high- 
spirited lad; there was nothing vicious about Peregrine 
Bertie, nothing bad. From all accounts he was a normal youth 
sowing a few wild oats, more interested in feats of physical 
prowess than in intellectual exercises. But Catherine would 
have had her son be perfect, and she worried about him. On 
June 29th, 1572, she wrote to William Cecil: 

I have great cause to think myself very much bounden to 
you ... So am I and my husband wholly at your com- 
mandment ... and now my good Lord, to perfect this 
work there rests no more but it will please you to give 
that young man my son some good counsel, to bridle 
his youth, and with all haste to dispatch him the Court, 
that he may go down to his father while I trust all is well 
. . . From Willoughby House in the Barbican this present 
Sunday. 11 

When he was seventeen years old, there were plans afoot 
for Peregrine to marry Elizabeth Cavendish, the daughter of 
the Countess of Shrewsbury (Bess of Hardwick). What 
happened is not at all clear, but Peregrine did not marry her, 
and, on very short acquaintance and without the royal 
permission, Elizabeth Cavendish married the Earl of Lennox, 
brother of the Lord Darnley who had married Mary Queen 
of Scots and had been murdered in 1567. It seems pretty 
certain that the reason why Peregrine did not marry her was 
because he did not wish, to marry her, and that the young 
girl, piqued by Peregrine's attitude, quickly salved her 
wounded pride with another, nobler, husband. The queen 
was outraged at not being consulted by the Countess of 



Shrewsbury about her daughter's marriage, and, in an 
effort to mitigate the royal anger, the Earl of Shrewsbury 
wrote to the queen in 1574: 

I understand of late your Majesty's displeasure is sought 
against my wife, for the marriage of her daughter to 
Lady Lennox's son. I must confess to your Majesty, as 
true is, it was dealt in suddenly, without my knowledge, 
but as I dare undertake and insure to your Majesty. For 
my wife, finding her daughter disappointed of young 
Bertie where she hoped, and the other young gentleman 
was inclined to love with a few days' acquaintance, did 
her best to further her daughter to this match, without 
having therein any other intent or respect than with 
reverent duty towards your Majesty she ought. 12 

Not only was Peregrine Bertie not interested in marrying 
Elizabeth Cavendish; he was not in the least interested in 
having his marriage arranged for him. In this he was his 
mother's own son. It would be interesting to know exactly 
how much Catherine of Suffolk had to do with the matter, 
It was, of course, entirely out of character for her to have 
tried in any way to press a loveless match upon her son, and 
there is no indication that she did. In fact, there is no word 
from her, of pleasure or of disappointment, either at the 
prospect of the marriage or at its failure to come about. She 
did not even write to William Cecil about it, as she did so 
often when a problem arose which touched her deeply, as 
she did at great length and more than once when Peregrine 
actually did decide to marry. For her son's choice of a wife 
brought no happiness to his mother. 

In the year 1577, when he was nearly twenty-two years 
old, Peregrine Bertie was deeply in love with Lady Mary 



Vere, the daughter of the late sixteenth Earl of Oxford and 
sister of Edward Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, who had 
married William Cecil's daughter Ann in 1571. Brilliant and 
charming, self-centred and cruel, Oxford had, by his selfish- 
ness and arrogance, brought great unhappiness to his young 
wife Ann, and to her father a fact which was well known 
to the Duchess of Suffolk, as it was to most people. The 
duchess viewed with considerable apprehension the prospect 
of her son marrying Oxford's sister, a young woman who 
gave every indication of a difficult and unpleasant disposition 
which boded ill for a happy married life. But Peregrine was 
so much in love with Lady Mary that nothing, certainly no 
protest from his father or mother, could shake him. Catherine 
realized that fact, she realized also how hot-headed the young 
couple were, and she was very frightened lest they might 
marry in a hurry, without first getting the queen's approval 
of their match. On July 2nd she wrote to William Cecil 
about it. 

It is very true that my wise son has gone very far with 
my Lady Vere, I fear too far to turn. I must say to you 
in counsel what I have said to her plainly, that I had 
rather he had matched in any other place, and I told her 
the causes. Her friends made small account of me, her 
brother did what in him lay to deface my husband and 
my son; besides, our religions agree not, and I cannot 
tell what more. If she should prove like her brother, if 
an empire follows her I should be sorry to match so. 
She said that she could not rule her brother's tongue nor 
help the rest of his faults, but for herself she trusted so to 
use her as I should have no cause to mislike her. And 
seeing it was so far forth between my son and her, she 



desired my good will and asked no more. 'That is a 
seemly thing,' quoth I, Tor you to live on; for I fear that 
Master Bertie will so mislike these dealings that he will 
give little more than his good will if he will give that. 
Besides, if her Majesty shall mislike of it, sure we turn 
him to the wide world/ She told me how Lord Sussex 
and Master Hatton had promised to speak for her to the 
Queen, and that I would require you to do the like. I 
told her her brother used you and your daughter so evil 
that I could not require you to deal in it. Well, if I would 
write she knew you would do it for my sake; and since 
there was no undoing it she trusted I would for my 
son's sake help now. 13 

It does not appear whether or not Lord Burghley put in a 
word with the queen in favour of the marriage. As Catherine 
had remarked in her letter, he had no reason to love anyone 
connected with the Earl of Oxford. But less than a fortnight 
later, on July I4th, the duchess wrote to him again, enclosing 
a letter from her husband indicating how troubled he was 
about his son's proposed marriage. 

If he knew as much as I of Lord Oxford's dealings, it 
would trouble him more ; but the case standing as it doth, 
I mean to keep it from him. I cannot express how much 
it grieveth me that my son in this weightiest matter hath 
so far forgotten himself to the trouble and disquiet of 
his friends. He is like enough to be his own undoing 
and the young lady's too, for if his wilfulness and un~ 
courteous dealings should by any means come to my 
husband's ears, I believe he would make his son but a 
small marriage. I know not what to do therein. He can- 
not take it well at my hand that I should seek to bestow 



his son as it were against his will: and yet if her Majesty 
could be won to like of it, my husband would be the 
easier won to it if Lord Oxford's great uncourtesy do 
not too much trouble him. 14 

The duchess wrote from Willoughby House in London, 
where she had undoubtedly come in order to be near the 
young people. Her husband, 'so far off', was probably at 
Grimsthorpe. Neither one of them liked the idea of their son 
marrying Lady Mary, but Catherine was about ready to 
accept it as inevitable. She was reluctant to press her old 
friend to intervene any further with the Veres, who had 
treated him and his child so badly; she was so reluctant to do 
it that she could only hint, at the end of this letter, at the need 
to win the queen's approval. So much she could not resist 
doing. Peregrine, she was now certain, was going to marry 
Lady Mary Vere, with or without approval from his parents 
or his queen. Catherine was nearly beside herself with worry. 
If her son and Lady Mary were to marry without Elizabeth's 
knowledge and approval, it would almost inevitably end 
Peregrine's future as a servant of his queen. No one knew 
better than Catherine of Suffolk how angry Elizabeth Tudor 
could become when members of her Court married without 
her consent, and to what lengths the royal anger could go. 
Moreover, Lady Mary Vere was a maid of honour, and as 
such her marriage was in the gift of the Crown; if she were 
to defy this and marry without the queen's approval, both 
she and the man who married her would be ruined, nothing 
less. The duchess was on the horns of a cruel dilemma. She 
hated the whole business, but she knew beyond any doubt 
that her son's whole future was at stake, and the one person 
to whom she could turn for help in winning the queen to this 



marriage which she herself so hated was the one man she 
could not bear to ask. And so, at fifty-eight years of age, 
Catherine of Suffolk was driven to hinting for Cecil's help. 
It was a hateful position for the proud and outspoken 
duchess, a position such as she had never been in before and 
one which she would have rejected now except to save her 
son. Peregrine was the only one of her sons who had lived 
to manhood for him the duchess would do virtually 

William Cecil knew this; he knew how hard it must have 
been for Catherine to write to him as she did. What action 
he took in the matter is not recorded, but it is safe to guess 
that he intervened with the queen on behalf of Catherine's 
son and his chosen bride. The Earl of Oxford had separated 
from Ann Cecil, heaping insults upon her and upon her 
father, but Cecil was not one to let his own bitterness stand 
in the way of helping his old friend. In any case, Queen 
Elizabeth finally agreed to the marriage, and Peregrine 
Bertie and Lady Mary Vere were wed some time after the 
beginning of the year 1578. 

Catherine's relations with her future daughter-in-law had 
become more amicable by the end of 1577, so much so that 
together they hatched up a scheme for improving the 
relations between Lady Mary's brother and his rejected 
wife, who, with their baby daughter (whom Oxford had 
refused even to see) was living at her father's home. From 
Willoughby House the duchess wrote to Lord Burghley on 

... on Thursday I went to see my Lady Mary Vere. After 
other talks, she asked me what I would say to it if my 
Lord her brother would take his wife again. 'Truly,' 


quoth I, 'nothing would comfort me more, for now I 
wish to your brother as much good as to my own son/ 
'Indeed/ quoth she, 'He would very fain see the child 
and is loth to send for her.' 'Then/ quoth I, 'And you 
will keep my counsel, we will have some sport with him. 
I will see if I can get the child hither to me, when you 
shall come hither, and whilst my Lord your brother is 
with you I will bring in the child as though it were some 
other of my friends' and we shall see how nature will 
work in him to like it, and tell him it is his own after/ 
'Very well/ quoth she, 'we agree thereon/ ... I mean 
not to delay in it otherwise than it shall seem good to 
your Lordship and in that sort that may best like you. I 
will do what I can either in that or in anything else that 
may any way lay in me. 15 

The duchess had found something she might be able to do 
for her friend to repay, in some part, the great debt she felt 
she owed to him. Later on in the same day, Catherine was 
struck by the thought that Lady Mildred Cecil, Burghley's 
wife, might be reluctant to fall in with her plan, not wishing 
to risk losing her little granddaughter. On the heels of her 
first letter the duchess sent a second note to Lord Burghley. 

After I had sealed my letter, I began to remember what 
grief it would be to my lady your wife to part with the 
child. But let her not fear that, for after he hath seen it it 
can not tarry here and though he would, for here is no 
apt lodging for her. And I doubt not after the first sight 
but he will be well enough content to come to her at her 
own home. But if I may counsel, in no way let him not 
be arrested in his desire. 16 



Unfortunately there is no record of whether the scheme 
was ever put into effect. Oxford and Ann were reconciled, 
but not until 1582, nearly five years later. 

After their marriage, Peregrine and his bride went to live 
at Grimsthorpe, while Catherine and Richard Bertie stayed 
in London. They moved into a house in Hampstead, which 
at that time was not a part of the city but was country, and 
somewhat rolling country at that. Possibly the duchess and 
her husband took the house there when Catherine turned 
Grimsthorpe over to her son and his bride, because they 
found that they were missing the green fields and tall 
trees and the feeling of openness and space in Lincoln- 
shire. Willoughby House stood in a closely built-up part of 
London, and Catherine, who was far from well, undoubtedly 
felt cramped and confined living there for any length of time. 
In spite, however, of the beautiful surroundings in which 
they started their life together, Peregrine's marriage to Lady 
Mary did not begin auspiciously. The bride's temper was a 
hot one, and perhaps Peregrine himself was none too patient. 
Also, it appears that they took no pains at all in the upkeep of 
Grimsthorpe. On March I2th, 1578, the duchess wrote a 
letter to Burghley on behalf of one Charles Chamberlain, a 
kinsman of hers who hoped for service under him; on behalf 
of 'one from Boston', who had money due to him for 
service in Ireland; and finally 

for a more unthankful person, in counsel may I say it, 
for my daughter Mary and her husband, who will in any 
wise use a house out of hand and I fear will so govern it 
as my husband and I shall have small comfort of it and 
less gain; for what disorders they make we must pay for 
it, but neither the young folk nor my husband so con- 


siders of it yet. That my Lady loves wine who knows 
her that knows not that ... and my son hates it not ... 
my suit therefore is if it shall not mislike you or that you 
may do it, to grant them ... impost for two tuns of wine 
to be taken at Hull or Boston, and I dare better be 
bound to you that it shall be all drunken quickly in their 
house than orderly or well spent. 17 

Catherine went on to ask Burghley to do this as promptly 
as he could, in order that the young people would stay 
longer in the country, 'if they outrage not too much so as 
we shall not be able to bide it/ This letter is revealing of 
Catherine's concern about the way her son and his wife were 
living, and of the fact that apparently she felt that they were 
drinking more than was good for them. It seems surprising 
that she asked Burghley to make the wine available to them, 
since obviously she did not approve of the way they would 
drink it, but perhaps she had faced the fact that they were 
going to do it anyway, and felt that on the whole it was 
better for them to stay in the country than to come back to 
town, which they might well do if they could not get what 
they wanted at Grimsthorpe. 

The situation was no better late in September. Thomas 
Cecil, Lord Burghley '$ eldest son, wrote to his father on the 

My wife and I have of late made a little progress into 
Lincolnshire ... Thus being on my way from Grantham 
to my Lady of Suffolk's which I take in my way home- 
wards ... as touching such disagreements as have fallen 
out there ...this far I understand, that my Lady of 
Suffolk's coming down from London was to appease 
certain unkindnesses grown between her son and his 


wife. More particularly as yet I cannot write at this time, 
but I think my Lady Mary will be beaten with that 
rod which heretofore she prepared for others. 18 

Catherine of Suffolk was miserable about the whole 
business. She was quite ill in the autumn of 1579, ill in body 
and in great pain, but also in such anguish of mind over her 
son's troubles that it caused concern to members of her 
household, some of whom appear to have commented upon 
her mental state. On September 23rd she wrote to Lord 
Burghley that she was very much upset at discovering that 
he had been given the impression that she was 'senseless'. 

I beseech you my good Lord not to think, though I be 
sickly that I am altogether senseless as my foolish foot- 
man hath given your Lordship rather to think. I assure 
you, since yesternight that my daughter [Susan] came 
from London and told it me, I have not been quiet, as 
this bearer can tell whom I have dispatched so soon as 
my extremity would suffer me to write this letter. And 
where it pleaseth you of your goodness to consider of 
any by his foolish talk ... I beseech your Lordship for 
God's sake there may be no more words of it . . . Craving 
your pardon both for my foolish man and myself... at 
Hampstead, in pain of body as this bearer can tell. 

But whatever I am in weakness of body, Your 
Lordship's very assuredly till it will please God to call 
me. 19 

There was nothing wrong with Catherine's mind. But she 
was all but distraught over her son's unhappiness. Moreover, 
she could see nothing whatever that she could do to help in 
the situation, a fact which only increased her worry and 



misery. Obviously Lady Mary was behaving very badly, and 
obviously part of her bad behaviour was directed at Pere- 
grine's mother. In March of 1580, the duchess wrote a letter 
to the Earl of Leicester. 

I am very sorry that it is my evil fortune to be trouble- 
some to any of my friends, especially being brought to 
the same by the evil hap of my dear son's marriage ... 
now I hear by some of my friends [she] hath in these few 
days shown such a letter of mine as doth show how near 
I came to lose my head if she had not by good hap 
escaped some dangers, as it seemeth, wrought to her by 
me. What they were I know not. But it shall please 
her Majesty to be so much my gracious lady, to appoint 
any to examine me of any doings towards her. I trust 
they shall find no likelihood in me of losing my head, 
nay, nor wrong in writing of my sharp letter, all 
circumstances considered ... 20 

Catherine probably wrote that particular letter to Leicester 
thinking that he, being the queen's favourite, could do more 
than anyone to counteract in Elizabeth's mind the sort of 
malicious stories her daughter-in-law was circulating about 
her. A month later, however, she had stood inaction just as 
long as she could. Her son's problem was so acute that she 
felt that something must be done, and that she must take a 
hand in getting it done. In April of 1580, on Easter Monday, 
she wrote to Lord Burghley once more. 

I am ashamed to be so troublesome to your Lordship 
and others of my good Lords of her Majesty's honour- 
able council, specially in so uncomfortable a suit as for 



license of thek assent of the absence of my only dear son, 
in whose company I hoped with comfort to have 
finished my last days. But ... either I must see his doleful 
pining and vexed mind at home, which hath brought 
him to such a state of mind and body as so many 
knoweth and can witness it, or else content myself with 
his deske to seek such fortune abroad as may make him 
forget some griefs and give him better knowledge and 
experience to serve her Majesty and his country at his 
return. The time he desketh for the same is five years, 
so as I am never like after his departure to see him again; 
yet am I loath he should so long be out of her Majesty's 
realm wherefore I cannot consent to any more than three 
years. Oh, my good Lord, you have children and there- 
fore you know how dear they be to their parents, your 
wisdom also is some help to govern your fatherly 
affections by ... but alas, I a poor woman which with 
great pains and travail many years hath by God's mercy 
brought an only son from tender youth to man's state 
... so hoping no w to have reaped some comfort for my 
long pains ... in place of comfort I myself must be the 
suitor for his absence, to my great grief and sorrow. But 
God's will be fulfilled, who worketh all for the best to 
them that love and fear Him; wherefore were not that 
hope of Him thoroughly settled in me, I think my very 
heart would burst for sorrow. I understand my sharp 
letters be everywhere showed, but were the bitter causes 
that moved them as well opened and known, I am sure 
my very enemies ... would not only pity me and my 
husband's wrongs but both my children's ... I most 
humbly beseech her Majesty even for God's sake there- 
fore to give him leave to go to sea and live in all places 



where it shall please God to hold him, always with the 
duty of a faithful subject to serve ... her Majesty ... 21 

That heartbroken letter is the last one from the duchess 
that has been preserved. It is a pitiful letter, and yet, in spite 
of her overwhelming grief which had almost beaten her 
down, Catherine's faith in the love of her God was as strong 
as ever it had been. Not even this bitter sorrow and dis- 
illusionment, which had come to her when she was no 
longer young, no longer strong, could shake her abiding 


Peregrine did not go overseas in 1580; he did not go until 
1582, and by that time he and Lady Mary had resolved their 
problems, and Lady Mary had settled down to be a loyal and 
loving wife. It was very sad that the first years of their 
marriage were such unhappy ones, tragic that during 
Catherine's life her daughter-in-law caused her only heart- 
break and worry. The duchess was a devoted mother; she 
loved her children dearly and their welfare was her greatest 
concern. In the afternoon of her life she would have been 
completely contented if she could only have seen her two 
children living happy, useful lives, raising their families, 
bringing her grandchildren to see her. Such happiness was no 
more than Catherine of Suffolk deserved. But it was not to 
be. Her daughter, Susan, had been saddened by the loss of 
her husband, Reginald Grey, soon after his elevation to the 
peerage, and this loss was a personal grief to the duchess too; 
and while Susan made a second, happy, marriage with Sir 
John Wingfield, that did not come until later, in 1582. 
Peregrine and Lady Mary had six children, the eldest one 
born in 1582. And they named their youngest child, their 
only daughter, Catherine, after Peregrine's mother. Lady 



Mary had overcome her antagonism towards her mother- 
in-law. But the duchess did not live to see the change in Lady 
Mary. She never saw any of her grandchildren, nor did she 
see the ultimate happiness of her own children. 




ON September ipth, 1580, Catherine of Suffolk died. 
It was almost exactly forty-seven years since the day 
when she had stood at Charles Brandon's side to be- 
come the Duchess of Suffolk. Her life since that day in her 
far-off girlhood had been a full one, full of laughter and tears, 
of serenity and adventure, security and danger. Whatever 
had happened to her, she had always been a personage, a 
great lady. While her life did not alter the course of empire, 
did not influence kings or statesmen, she played, directly or 
indirectly, a part of considerable consequence in the develop- 
ment of Protestantism in England. Great figures in the 
Reformation, Hugh Larimer, Martin Bucer, John a Lasco, all 
owed much to her, all at some time were helped and stimu- 
lated by her generosity and encouragement. 

There were women rulers in Europe during Catherine's 
life, Mary and Elizabeth in England, Mary in Scotland, 
Catherine de Medicis in France; there were learned women, 
'blue-stockings' the Cooke sisters, Mildred who married 
William Cecil and her equally erudite sisters; and there was 
the ill-fated, scholarly little Lady Jane Grey. Except for such 
women as these, however, the females of Catherine's day 
were retiring and quiet people, perhaps beautiful and charm- 
ing, but quite simply shadowy backgrounds for their hus- 
bands, and their sole purpose in life was to run their homes, 
to bear and rear their children and to keep themselves in the 



background. Catherine of Suffolk was quite different from 
any of these women. She was not royalty, she was not a blue- 
stocking ; and she was never a shadow of anyone, man or 
woman. Her education had been as good but no better than 
that of the average girl-child of the gentry, and after her 
childhood she had not pursued scholarship. But she was 
intelligent and thoughtful, fearless and outspoken, and she 
was devout and sure in her belief and tireless in her zeal. She 
worked hard and lovingly among the country folk of her 
home county of Lincoln, to bring to them the message of the 
reformed religion, to make certain that the Gospel was 
preached to them in words which they could understand, 
that the Word of God, the Bible, was available to them in 
the English language. A sixteenth-century writer referred to 
her as 'that devout woman of God', and one writing in the 
twentieth century called her 'almost the mother of English 

She was married twice, both times quite happily, and she 
was a good wife and mother. Probably she was fortunate in 
that both of her husbands were proud, not only of her 
beauty and wit, of her devotion to them and her success as 
the mistress of their homes, but also of her independence of 
mind, her individuality and the fact that she was never just 
their shadow, but a vital, forceful personality herself. Men in 
the sixteenth century did not always want these qualities in 
their wives; both the Duke of Suffolk and Richard Bertie 
accepted them with pride and satisfaction. 

She was singularly modern in the midst of the sixteenth 
century, modern in her quiet assumption that in addition to 
home-making and caring for her children a woman could 
and should make a contribution to the spiritual well-being of 
the people, in her courage and outspokenness, and, above all, 



modern in her refusal to accept beliefs and customs simply 
because they had always been accepted. 

She died quietly, either in London or at Grimsthorpe (one 
hopes it was the latter, but one cannot be certain), and she 
was buried in the church in Spilsby in Lincolnshire, north- 
east of Grimsthorpe, near Tattershall and close by her own 
manor of Eresby. Eighteen months later her husband died 
and was buried beside her. An impressive monument was 
raised in their memory in the lovely fourteenth-century 
church where they lie with the breezes from the North Sea 
blowing freshly about as they blew over the gardens in 
Suffolk, not so many miles to the south, in the days when 
little Catherine Willoughby played there. One may go to the 
church and look at the stone effigies of Catherine and Richard 
Bertie, and read that this is the tomb of 'Ricardi Bertie et 
Catherinae Ducissae Suffolkiae, Baronissae de Willoby et 
Eresby'. But the most vital memorials of Catherine of 
Suffolk are her letters to William Cecil, explaining her 
refusal to make an important but loveless match for her 
first-born son; her letter after her boys' death, reaffirming her 
faith in God; the edition of Larimer's Sermons, dedicated to 
her Valiant spirit'; and, above all, the love and gratitude of 
the country people to whom she had made God and His love 
accessible and understandable and real. She lived in the! 
sixteenth century, and the events of that century dictated her! 
life, but they could never circumscribe it. Her beauty of \ 
mind and body, her charm and wit, and her spiritual integrity 
and fearlessness were not merely characteristics of the six- 
teenth century: they were eternal. 


Iti writing this book, I have drawn upon manuscript material in the Public Record 
Office (P.R.O.), in the British Museum (B.M.) and in private manuscript collections, the 
Salisbury MSS at Hatfield House and the Ancaster MSS deposited in the Lincolnshire 
Archives Office; also upon contemporary chroniclers. Descriptions are based upon first- 
hand observations, in Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Germany, checked against historical 
descriptions. The following notes are for the purpose of identifying particular references; 
I have kept them to a minimum, feeling that copious notes are out of place in this book. 

CHAPTER I (pages 21-32) 

1 B.M., Stowe MSS, 656, fol. jb fT. 

2 Cal L. & P. Henry FIJI, vol. IV, pt 3, no. 5508. 

CHAPTER n (pages 33-49) 

i The story about the burial of Maria de Saunas is set forth in Lady Cecilie Goff, 
Woman of the Tudor Age (London, 1930). I have in my possession letters from the Rev. 
Canon James L. Cartwright, librarian and archivist of Peterborough Cathedral, saying 
that the story cannot be supported, that the leaden coffin within the grave was not opened 
and the body was not discovered. 

CHAPTER m (pages 50-63) 

1 Thomas Fuller, Church History of Britain, vol. IV, p. 235. 

2 John Strype, Annals, vol. II, pt ii, p. 347- , TT . . __ 

3 Ibid., p. 496. I am indebted to Professor Kenneth Setton of the University of Penn- 
sylvania for translating the verse. 

4 On Hugh Larimer, c his Sermons', also Allan G. Chester, Hugh Latimer (Philadelphia, 


CHAPTER rv (pages 64-78) 

1 P R O S.P. 10-8-35. (Unpublished Crown copyright material in the Public Record 
Office is reproduced by permission of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office.) 

2 Ibid., 10-10-39 (printed in P. F. Tytler, England under the reigns of Edward VI and Mary 

(1839), vol. I, p. 323)- 

3 Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials, vol. II, pt 11, p. 130. 
* P.R.O., S.P. 10-10-2. 

5 Ibid., IO-IO-6. 

CHAPTER v (pages 79-96) 

1 H.M.C., Cal. Ancaster MSS, p. 457- , * .v *f. 

2 I am indebted to Professor Albert J. Schmidt for drawing my attention to this reter- 

- ibic,, *x. 10-14-47- n interesting thing about ^^Jf * *? r f CT ^ ce J 
niece. The word is transcribed almost everywhere as wife. All Chester, in Hue 
has it niece. I have examined the manuscript with great care, 



the P.R.O. The word is clearly nesse (i.e., niece) and probably refers to Mary Glover, 
Latimer's favourite niece, with whom he made his home much of the time. Latimer, of 
course, was never married. 
5 Conyers Read, The Tudors (New York, 1936), p. 122. 

CHAPTER vi (pages 97-109) 

1 Parker Society, Ridley Letters (1841), p. 382. 

2 The account of Gardiner's questioning of Richard Bertie, and of the Berties* flight, is 
set forth in Foxe, Acts and Monuments (4th edition, ed. Josiah Pratt), vol. VIII, pp. 569 ff. 

3 Lady Georgina Bertie, Five Generations of a Loyal House (1845), pt i, p. 23, n. 2. 

CHAPTER vn (pages 110-29) 

1 Foxe spells the name Santon, today it is spelled Xanten; it is derived from the Latin 

2 'Narrative of the Pursuit of English Refugees in Germany under Queen Mary', 
Royal Hist Soc. Trans*, new ser., vol. XI, p. 113. 

3 Lady G. Bertie, Five Generations of a Loyal House, Appendix U. 

4 Lady C. Goff, Woman of the Tudor Age, p. 240. 

CHAPTER vm (pages 130-46) 

1 P.R.O., S.P. 12-2-10. 

2 Ibid., 12-3-9. 

3 H. Gee, Elizabethan Prayer Book (1902), p. 210. 

4 Cal. Pat. Rolls, Eliz., vol. I, p. 25. 

5 P.R.O., S.P, 12-6-2. 

6 Ibid., 12-43-40. 

CHAPTER ix (pages 147-66) 

1 Lincolnshire Archives Office, Ancaster MSS, vii/A/2. 

2 Lady GofF, Woman of the Tudor Age, p. 262, says that Lady Elinor was Elinor Clifford, 
but Miss Strickland, Lives of the Tudor Princesses (1868), p. 296, says that Elinor Clifford 
died in 1547. 

3 This may mean rustic, i.e., country, wagon, or it may, as the Cal. Ancaster MSS 
(p. 472) suggests, mean 'rush' wagon. 

4 Lincolnshire Archives Office, Ancaster MSS, vii/A/5. 

5 Ibid, 

CHAPTER x (pages 167-92) 

1 B.M., Lansdowne MSS, 35, no. 90, 

2 Lincolnshire Archives Office, Ancaster MSS, v/B/4. 

3 B.M., Add. MSS, 48043, fol. 1-9. 

4 H.M.C., Cal. Salisbury MSS, vol. I, p. 477. 

5 Ibid., p. 482. 

6 P.R.O., S.P. 12-77-52. 

7 Ibid., 12-77-63. 

8 Ibid., 12-78-18. 
& Ibid., 12-78-42. 

10 Cambridge Univ. Library, MS. Ee. 11.34. fol- ?2v. I am indebted to Sir John Neale 
for calling my attention to this reference. 



1 1 B.M., Lansdowne MSS, 28, no. 62. The letter is misdated, 1579, in the catalogue. The 
last figure is somewhat obscure; it is possible to read it as either a 9 or a 2, but in 1579 the 
29th June, the date of the endorsement, was a Wednesday, whereas in 1572 it was a Sunday, 
which fits the letter. Moreover, in 1579 the letter would not make sense, since Peregrine 
Bertie was married in 1578. 

12 GorT, Woman of the Tudor Age, p. 307. 

13 Cal. Salisbury MSS, vol. XIII, p. 146. 

14 Hatfield House, Salisbury MSS, 160/135. 

15 B.M., Lansdowne MSS, 25, no. 27. 

16 Ibid. 

17 Hatfield House, Salisbury MSS, 160/119. 

18 Cal. Salisbury MSS, vol. II, p. 205. 
19. B.M., Lansdowne MSS, 28, no. 65. 

20 GofF, op. cit., p. 315. 

21 B.M., Lansdowne MSS, 25, no. 39. 


ALASCO,JOHN, 122, 193 
Anne of Cleves, 45 

BERTIE, CATHERINE, see Catherine Duchess 
of Suffolk 

Bertie, Peregrine, birth, 119; 128, lySff; 
marriage, 184 

Bertie, Richard, second husband of 
Catherine of Suffolk, 89-91 ; marriage to 
Catherine, 92; 98ff; exile, chap, vii 
passim; master at Grimsthorpe, chap, ix 
passim; public service, 167-8; answer to 
Knox, First Blast of the Trumpet, 170; 177, 

Bertie, Susan, daughter of Catherine and 
Richard Bertie, birth, 95; 104, 171, 173, 

Bertie, Thomas, father of Richard Bertie, 


Bilney, Thomas, 54-6 
Boleyn, Anne, 31, 36 
Bomelius, Henry, pastor of St Willebrod s 

church in Wesel, 119 
Brandon, Charles Duke of Suffolk, 17, 25; 

marriage to French Queen, 26; marriage 

to Catherine Willoughby, 32; 38-9, 4* 

46; death, 48 
Brandon, Charles, son of Duke of Suffolk 

and the French Queen, 17, 33-4 
Brandon, Charles, younger son of 

Catherine and Duke of Suffolk, 42, 63, 

65, 79ff; death, 83 
Brandon, Eleanor, 17, 29, 49 
Brandon, Frances, 17, 29, 3L 4, 49, 86, 

95; death, 140 . 

Brandon, Henry, eldest son of Catherine 

and Charles Brandon, 41, 63, 65, 79ff; 

death, 83 
Bucer, Martin, 81-2, 121, 193 

CATHERINE OF ARAGON, 21-3. 3; divorced, 
36; 38-9; death, 40 

Catherine Duchess of Suffolk, 17; birth, 21 ; 
early childhood, 24; ward of Charles 
Brandon, 25, 28-30; first marriage, 32; 
birth of sons, 41-2; charm and grace, 
43, 66; meets Anne of Cleves, 45; at 

King's marriage to Catherine Parr, 48; 
wit, 43, 50, 102; character, 50; Protestant 
leanings, 51; meeting with Hugh 
Latimer, 38, 57; influence of Latimer, 
53, 56-7, 91, 97; Gardiner's antipathy 
towards her, 58, 96, 97ff; speculations 
about her remarriage, 61 ; life at Grims- 
thorpe, 64, 1478"; belief and work for 
Protestantism, 66-7; 73, 75, U7; friend ~ 
ship with William Cecil, 68, 75, 79, 85, 
87, 131, 143, 148, 153, i?l. 175, 179, 181, 
184-6, 188, 189-91; zeal and impatience 
with caution, 69, 131-8, 168; friendship 
for Somerset, 70, 75; for Warwick, 75; 
guardian of Catherine Pan's infant, 
71-3; attitude towards son Henry's 
marriage, 76-7; move to Kingston, 81; 
friendship with Martin Bucer, 81-2, 121 ; 
death of sons, 83-4; considering re- 
marriage, 89; marriage to Richard 
Bertie, 92; birth of daughter, 95; flight 
and exile, 105-39; birth of son Peregrine, 
119; return to England, 139; relations 
with Catherine and Mary Grey, 1406; 
household at Grimsthorpe, chap, ix 
passim; relations with Queen Elizabeth, 
168-9, 174; efforts to get title for 
Reginald Grey, I7iff; for Richard 
Bertie, I72ff; worry about Peregrine, 
I 7 8ff; ill health, 172, 174, 188 ; death, 193 
Catherine Howard, 46-8 
Catherine Parr, 48, 59; religious pamphlet, 

69; death 71 
Cecil, Lady Mildred, wife of William 

Cecil, 133,185, 193 
Cecil, Thomas, 141, 187 
Cecil, William, Lord Burghley t friend ot 
Catherine of Suffolk, 68; character, 
68-9, 130-1; efforts to dispel enmity 
between Somerset and Warwick, 75; 
letters to, from Catherine of Suffolk, 
72, 74, 75, 76-7, 85, 88, 133. U3, 173, 
174, 175, 179, 181, 182, 184, 185, ISO, 
188, 189; mentioned, 79, *3<$, I43 H8 
153, 167, 170, 177, 193 
Chapuys, Eustace, ambassador trom 

Emperor Charles V, 33, 39, 6* 
Charles V, emperor, 33, 102 



Cranmer, Thomas, Archbishop of Can- 
terbury, 37, 42, 70, 97, 102, 122 
Cromwell, Thomas, 45 

DORSET, MARQUESS OF, see Grey, Henry 

Dudley, Lord Guildford, 93-4 

Dudley, John, Earl of Warwick, Duke of 

Northumberland, 43, 59, 74fF, 78 
Dudley, Robert, Earl of Leicester, 189 

EDWARD VI, 42, 63, 66, 70, 93 ; death, 94 
Elizabeth, Queen of England, 36, 42-3, 68, 

129; accession, 130; 136, 139, 140, 143, 

145, 157; relations with Catherine of 

Suffolk, 168; 173, 175, 183 
Erasmus, Desiderius, New Testament, 54; 

Erbagh, Earl of, 126 


GARDINER, STEPHEN, 22, 61, 62, 96, 97; 

moves against Catherine of Suffolk, 98ff 
Grey, Henry, Marquess of Dorset, Duke of 

Suffolk, 31, 86, 93-4 
Grey, Lady Jane, 87, 93-6, 140 
Grey, Lady Katherine, 140-2 
Grey, Lady Mary, 140, 142-6 
Grey, Reginald, husband of Susan Bertie, 

I7iff; death, 177 
Grimsthorpe, Lincolnshire, 22, 41, 46-7, 

54, 64-5, 85, 87, 139; chap, ix passim; 186 


Henry VIII, 21-3, 25, 30-1, 36, 38, 40, 42, 

44-9, 56, 60-2; death, 63 
Hertford, Earl of, see Seymour, Edward 
Howard, Thomas, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, 

42, 94, 96 

Knox, John, 51, 170 

LATIMER, HUGH, 37-8, 53-8, 74, 89-92, 97, 

102, 140, 193 

Leicester, Earl of, see Dudley, Robert 
Lisle, Lord, see Dudley, John 
Louis XII, King of France, 17, 26 

MARY, infant daughter of Catherine Parr 

and Thomas Seymour, 71-3 
Mary, Queen of England, 22-3, 36, 43, 57, 

59 93-6", 99, 102, 130, 136 

Mary, the French Queen, sister of Henry 
VIII, 17-19 ; marriage to Duke of Suffolk, 
26; character, 28; 30; death, 18, 32; 65 

Mason, Sir John, ambassador from Queen 
Mary to Netherlands, 120 

NORFOLK, DUKE OF, see Howard, Thomas 
Northampton, Marquess of, see Parr, 

Northumberland, Duke of, see Dudley, 


OTTO HEINRICH, Prince Palatine, 121 
Oxford, Earl of, see Vere, Edward 

PARHAM OLD HALL, Suffolk, 21, 24, 28, 170 

Parkhurst, John, chaplain to Duke and 
Duchess of Suffolk, 51; verse eulogizing 
duchess, 52 

Parr, William, Marquess of Northampton, 
62, 69, 72 

Perrault, Antoine de, Bishop of Arras and 
dean of minster at Santon, 112 

Perusell, Master Francis, pastor of congre- 
gation in Wesel, ill, 112, 117 

Pilgrimage of Grace, 41 

Poland, 61, 122-3, 127-8 

RADZIWELL, NICHOLAS, Count Palatine of 

Vilna, 122, 127 
Ridley, Nicholas, 97, 102 

Salinas, Maria de, mother of Catherine 

Duchess of Suffolk, 18, 21, 30, 39, 40; 

death, 44; burial, 44, 197 
Santon, town in Duchy of Cleves, 111-12 
Seton, Alexander, chaplain to Duke and 

Duchess of Suffolk, 51 
Seymour, Edward, ist Earl of Hertford, 

Duke of Somerset, 62, 63, 70, 73-8 
Seymour, Jane, 42 
Seymour, Thomas, Baron Seymour of 

Sudeley, 71 

Sigismund II, King of Poland, 61, 122, 127 
Somerset, Duke of, see Seymour, Edward 
Spilsby, Lincolnshire, burial place of 

Catherine and Richard Bertie, 195 
Suffolk, Duchess of, see Mary, the French 

Suffolk, Duke of, see Brandon, Charles; 

Grey, Henry 
Sweating sickness, 82-4 

from Emperor Charles V, 59 



Vere, Edward, ijth Earl of Oxford, 181-2, 

184, 186 
Vere, Lady Mary, 180-92 

WARWICK, EARL OF, see Dudley, John 

Weinheim, in Palatinate, 121 

Wesel, Hansa town in Duchy of Cleves, 

in, 114-20 

Westhorpe, Suffolk, 17, 28-31 
Willoughby, Lady, see Salinas, Maria de 

Willoughby, Catherine, see Catherine 

Duchess of Suffolk 

Willoughby, Sir Christopher, 24, 170 
Willoughby, William Lord, 21-2; death, 

Wilson, Dr Thomas, tutor to Henry and 

Charles Brandon at Cambridge, 79 
Wingfield, Sir John, second husband of 

Susan Bertie, 177, 191 
Wolsey, Thomas Cardinal, 23 
Wriothesley, Sir Thomas, 61, 62, 91, 99 


THE TEXT of this book has been set on the Monotype 
in a type face named Bembo. The roman is a copy of a 
letter cut for the celebrated Venetian printer Aldus 
Manutius by Francesco Griffo, and first used in Cardinal 
Bembo's L>e Aetna of 1495 hence the name of the 
revival. Griffo's type is now generally recognized, thanks 
to the researches of Mr. Stanley Morison, to be the first 
of the old face group of types. The companion italic is 
an adaptation of a chancery script type designed by the 
Roman calligrapher and printer Lodovico degli Arrighi, 
called Vincentino, and used by him during the 152,0*5. 


EVELYN READ is the wife of the late Conyers Kead y the 
distinguished Tudor historian. Born in Philadelphia in 
1901, Mrs. Read attended the Baldwin School in Bryn 
Mawr and later Sweet Briar College in Virginia. Wit/z 
Mr. Read, she edited ELIZABETH OF ENGLAND, a contem- 
porary account by John Clapham, for publication in 
1951. While her husband was writing his highly ac- 
claimed two-volume life of 'William Cecil, Lord Burgh- 
Iey 7 Mrs. Read became interested in Catherine of 
Suffolk, who was a cherished -friend of Burghley's. She 
stayed where the Duchess had stayed, followed her 
footsteps to Germany, where Catherine lived as an exile, 
and slept in her bedroom at Grimsthorpe, which is still 
inhabited by her lineal descendants. Though she has 
written many articles and pamphlets and did research 
for many of her husband's books, MY LADY SUFFOLK 
is her first full-length book. Mrs. Read lives in Villanova, 

January 1963